Kylie Register

April 24, 2024

Mastering Food Safety: A Guide to ServSafe Certification


Developed by the National Restaurant Association with the help of foodservice industry experts, the ServSafe program is a food safety certification designed to educate food service workers about proper food handling and safety procedures to prevent foodborne illness.

ServSafe offers various training and certification programs for different roles in the food service industry. Certification is obtained by passing an exam after completing the training course.


ServSafe Food Manager*

Intended for individuals who oversee foodservice operations, such as restaurant managers, kitchen managers, and supervisors. This program goes into more depth on food safety principles including:

Foodborne illness prevention

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles

Food safety regulations

Employee training

Managers typically need to renew their certification every five years.

ServSave Food Handler

Designed for frontline foodservice employees, such as servers, chefs, cooks, and other food handlers. This program covers:

Basic food safety practices

Personal hygiene

Cleaning and sanitation

Time and temperature control

Cross-contamination prevention

This certification is typically valid for a few years before renewal is required.

ServSave Alcohol

With a focus specifically on responsible alcohol service, this program is intended for bartenders, servers, and other staff who serve alcohol in restaurants, bars, and other establishments. The program covers topics like:

Checking IDs

Recognizing signs of intoxication

Handling difficult situations

Understanding relevant alcohol laws and regulations

ServSave Allergens

The Allergens program is designed to educate foodservice staff about food allergens and how to prevent cross-contact with allergenic foods. Topics covered include:

Common food allergens

Preventing cross-contact

Communicating with customers about allergens

Understanding food labeling requirements

ServSave Workplace

This program addresses workplace safety issues beyond food safety and covers the following topics:

Preventing workplace violence



Promoting a positive and inclusive work environment

*indicates courses offered by the University of Florida


Why ServSafe Manager?

The most common certifications from this list are the ServSafe Food Handler and ServSafe Manager. While both certifications are valuable for ensuring food safety in a food service establishment, the ServSafe Manager certification is particularly beneficial for individuals currently in or who are striving to be in management or supervisory roles.


Deeper Understanding of Food Safety Principles:

The ServSafe Manager program covers food safety principles in greater depth compared to the Food Handler program. Managers learn about topics such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), foodborne illness prevention, risk factors for foodborne illness, and how to implement proper food safety procedures. This deeper understanding allows managers to effectively oversee and enforce food safety practices in their establishments.


Legal Requirements and Regulations:

Managers are typically responsible for ensuring that their establishment complies with food safety regulations and laws. The ServSafe Manager certification equips managers with the knowledge of relevant regulations and legal requirements, helping them avoid violations and potential legal issues.


Preparation for Inspections:

Managers often interface with health inspectors during routine inspections of their establishments. The ServSafe Manager program prepares managers to understand what inspectors look for, how to maintain compliance, and how to address any issues that may arise during inspections.


Leadership and Training Skills:

Managers are responsible for training and supervising staff in food safety practices. The ServSafe Manager program provides managers with leadership skills and techniques for effectively training employees on food safety procedures, ensuring a consistent and high standard of food safety throughout the establishment.


Career Advancement and Professional Development:

Holding a ServSafe Manager certification demonstrates a higher level of expertise and responsibility in food safety management. It can enhance an individual’s resume and open up opportunities for career advancement within the food service industry.


Study for ServSafe Food Manager with UF


The University of Florida is proud to offer a study course for professionals looking to get ServSafe Certified. This online course will help students prepare for the ServSafe Manager Exam through lectures, readings, and online quizzes. Students will have access to an instructor in Canvas for any additional questions or assistance that may be needed.Once students complete the online program, they will be able to sit for the ServSafe Manager Credentialing exam with the National Restaurant Association.

The ServSafe Manager study course is also included in our Culinary Arts Certificate Program.