Food Safety Certificate Requirements in Alberta

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In Alberta, an approved food safety certificate is required for all food businesses, but do you know who or how many staff are required to have it or how often you have to renew it?

This post will cover the answers to these questions and much more.

The food industry is one of the most regulated industries. This, of course is for good reason. Food safety is an important part of any food business operation. Foodborne illnesses for the most part are preventable. If proper food handling requirements are not followed, people may get sick and some may even die.

Safe food handling requirements are outlined in the Alberta Food Regulations. The Food Regulations outline requirements that all food businesses have to follow in order to be able to serve food. One of those requirements is for food handlers to have food safety training and hold an approved food safety certificate.

It’s important to note that every province in Canada has their own Food Safety Regulations. Although the regulations have many similarities there are some important differences and so it’s important that any food business is aware of the requirements of their province, city or territory where they are located.

In Alberta, the Food Regulation specifically outlines the requirement of food safety training under section 31.  Here’s what the Regulation says about food safety training;

  • If you have 5 or less food handlers working for your business, then at least 1 person has to have a Food Safety Certificate from an approved course (I’ll cover what’s an approved course later in this article).
  • If you have 6 or more food handlers working for your business, then you need at least 1 manager or supervisor to have an approved Food Safety Certificate AND they have to be present at the food facility.
    • Obviously one person can not be at work all the time so businesses have to make sure that someone with an approved food safety certificate are available at all times the business is open. Although the Regulation does not specify which position in the business needs to have the training, managers and supervisors should have an approved food safety certificate. This is so they can understand proper food handling practices and make sure that staff are following these practices. It’s also important for managers and supervisors to lead by example and they can only do that if they understand what the requirements are.
  • Lastly, these requirements do not apply if you only sell prepackaged food products. For example, if you have a local convenience store and you only sell pre-packaged (e.g. pop, chips, candy, canned goods etc..) then these requirements do not apply to you.
    • Remember there can’t be any food handling at all in order for this food safety certificate requirement not to apply.

So now we know how many food safety certified staff is needed, but what is considered an approved course?

So glad you asked.

Approved Food Safety Certificates

There are a number of approved food safety courses in AB. In order for a course to be approved it has to go through an approval process with the Ministry of Health. In Alberta, that’s Alberta Health.

If you are looking for an approved food safety course in Alberta then look no further. The Food Safety Leaders course is approved in Alberta and it is easily completed online.

You can find the information on the course and to sign up here.

Approved Food Safety Courses

Approved food safety training course.

There are also a number of other approved courses listed by Alberta Health. None of them are as good as our Food Safety Leaders Course though (of course we’re just a little bit biased 😊).

You can find the list of approved courses published by Alberta Health here. Sure, check out the competition but make sure to come right back now ok?

There is still one last question we didn’t cover yet. Once someone is certified how long is the certification good for or how often do they have to re-certify?

The answer to that question really depends on the course provider. Each course provider can put a requirement for re-certification on their own course so you’d have to check with the instructors of each course to find out how long the certificate is valid for.

So how long is the Food Safety Leaders course good for? Well, we decided not to put an expiration date on the certificates so technically it doesn’t expire. However, we do strongly recommend that people re-take the course as a refresher every 3 years.

There is also an unwritten rule within the food industry that if your certificate is older than 5 years, most employers don’t accept it and will ask their staff to take the course again.

So in summary, you should recertify your food safety training between 3-5 years. It’s always helpful to take a refresher course and make sure you’re up to date on food safety practices.

Alright, as promised we covered;

  • The food safety certificate training requirements in AB.
  • The number of staff that need to be certified.
  • What’s considered an approved food safety certificate.
  • Why Food Safety Leaders Course is the best – again, just a little bias coming out here.

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it. Food safety is definitely a serious topic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun sometimes.

Michael is the co-founder of Food Safety Leaders and has over two decades of food safety experience. He is an adjunct instructor of advanced food safety at Concordia University, and a regular seminar speaker.

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