Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to your questions with the Canadian Institute of Food Safety's Frequently Asked Questions section.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the Food Handler Certification course is 100% online and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You complete all of the lessons and quizzes online. Your final assessment is an online test which you are observed completing by a Certified Proctor via a webcam in your computer.

There's no need to visit any classrooms or exam centres when you complete a CIFS course.

The CIFS Food Handler Certification course is approved and accepted by all provinces and territories in Canada.

Whether you need Food Handler training to start a restaurant in Toronto, to work at a hotel in Vancouver or to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Winnipeg, you can register for the CIFS Food Handler Certification Course.

The course is available online, so you can take it anywhere at a time that suits you best and be sure that your certificate will be accepted throughout Canada.

The lessons and quizzes take most people around 8 to 10 hours to complete.

This can vary depending on your food handling experience, English language skills and computer literacy.

You don’t need to complete the whole course at once – you can start and stop as often as you need. The course software will remember where you’re up to and will prompt you to resume where you left off.

The final exam works slightly differently. A certified proctor will supervise your exam remotely via a webcam on your computer – there’s no need to book in advance as sessions are available 7 days/week.

You have 30 days from the date of enrolment to complete the course in its entirety, including the final exam.

Yes, you have 30 days from your date of enrolment to complete your final exam.

To view your course expiry date, please navigate to your ‘My Courses’ tab located on your main dashboard.

Once your course expires you will lose access to write your exam.

For the HACCP Food Safety Plan Kit, you also have 30 days to access the kit.

As soon as you pass your final exam, you can request your certificate to be emailed to you. Students typically receive their certificate by email within 60 minutes.

We recommend that you print and save a copy of your certificate so that you can easily access it in the future.

Your access to the course expires after 30 days so it’s important to ensure you have a saved copy before this date.

Online courses are a flexible, convenient and affordable option for those completing food safety training.

It’s not always easy to find the time to attend an in-class training course — and that’s if one is even offered in your area. Online training often provides a more accessible, convenient and affordable option for those who need their Food Handler certificate but don't want the hassle of commuting to a classroom or having to take a full day off work.

CIFS' online Food Handler Certification Course allows you to study on your own time, whenever and wherever is convenient for you. CIFS students learn the fundamental food safety knowledge and skills they need to safely and effectively perform their duties.

The online course is recognized and accepted by health authorities everywhere in Canada, and meets all legislative requirements for food safety training. 

When it comes to food safety training, the Canadian Institute of Food Safety’s online food handling course is second to none. It can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is easy to navigate and covers all the information required by federal and provincial law. Our support team also provides exceptional student support via email and over the phone, so you can speak directly to us if you need help.

You need to make sure you have the following in order to be able to complete any CIFS courses:

1. Access to a computer or laptop (with internet access)

Our lessons can be viewed on any device, including mobile and tablet devices.

However, we recommend that the quizzes at the end of each lesson are completed on a computer or laptop in order to view and select answers easily.

The final exam must be completed on a computer or laptop with a built-in camera or webcam.

2. A modern web browser

At CIFS we use some of the latest eLearning technologies to deliver the courses. You will need to have a modern web browser to view and complete the course, and it’s important that you have Javascript enabled.

3. An email address

During the registration process, you’ll be asked to supply an email address. This is a mandatory requirement for you to be able to access our systems. Email addresses cannot be shared between students.

4. Adobe PDF Reader or Adobe Acrobat

As part of the course, you’re provided with access to various resources (e.g. guides, posters) as well as comprehensive course notes. To access these you’ll need to have Adobe PDF Reader or Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer. Visit Adobe's website to get the latest version of Adobe PDF Reader (free download).

To complete a course delivered by CIFS you'll need skills in:

  1. Language, literacy and numeracy
  2. Computer use
  3. Independent study

For more details, refer to the FAQs on the CIFS Food Handler Certification course page.

If you have any concerns about any of the skills required, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your situation.

We’ve designed our course to try and accommodate for as many requirements as possible.

The course materials are delivered via interactive lessons, via audio and also via downloadable course notes. We’ve done this to try and make the course accessible for students with disabilities, or with language/literacy needs.

Once enrolled into the course, students are also able to interact with a qualified food safety trainer via email or telephone. If other tools such as video conferencing are required, this can be arranged.

Please contact us with any concerns and we’ll do our best to accommodate any special requirements.

Depending on the province or territory, Food Handler Certification renewal is required or recommended every five years.

The CIFS Food Handler Certification course is approved and accepted Canada-wide. Food Handlers can renew their certification by registering for the CIFS Food Handler course.

To write the exam you will need:

  • a computer equipped with a webcam and microphone
  • a relatively quiet room with no people nearby
  • no headphones, cell phones, notebooks or paper nearby
  • a piece of Government issued photo ID

When you click on 'Begin Final Exam' you will be connected to a proctor. When they’re satisfied that exam conditions are met, you may begin. 

The proctor will observe you throughout the exam using the webcam on your computer. Headphones, notes, external monitors, cell phones and people assisting you are not permitted. You will not be allowed to talk to others, leave the room or take notes.

The final exam has 50 multiple choice questions and a 60-minute time limit. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass the exam. 

The final exam requires proctoring. A Proctor is a person who remotely observes while you complete the exam. We have proctors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, allowing you to complete the exam at any time that suits you.

Before starting your exam, the Proctor will need to confirm your identity. To verify your identity, you will need to follow the two steps below: 

  1. Provide valid government-issued photo ID. The ID can be from any country, some examples are, driver’s licence, passport, health card, student card or citizenship. (For underage learners, student ID will be accepted). 
  2. The Proctor will take your photo. The photo will match the picture on the government-issued photo ID you have provided. 

Once your identity is validated, you can begin the exam. 

You have unlimited attempts to write the exam during the 30 day enrolment period, unless you are suspected of cheating. If you are found to have cheated in your exam then you will be removed from the course and will need to re-enrol and pay for a new course.

To avoid accusations of cheating, never do the following immediately before or during your exam: 

  1. Have your mobile device, tablet or additional laptop or computer with you or within your reach.
  2. Have any paper or notebooks open or accessible, or take notes or screenshots.
  3. Interact with or be within close proximity of friends, family or coworkers.
  4. Open additional browser windows or have your computer or laptop on split or multiple screen modes. 
  5. Have any instant messaging apps open (example: Slack or Google Hangouts).
  6. Leave or turn away from your computer (try to keep your gaze on the screen and keyboard only). 
  7. Wear headphones or any earpiece. 

Once you’ve passed the exam, you can request your certificate to be emailed immediately. Most students receive their certificate within 60 minutes of completing the exam.

You have unlimited attempts to write the exam, unless you are suspected of cheating. If you are found to have cheated in your exam then you will be removed from the course and will need to re-enrol and pay for a new course.

If you’re suspected of cheating, our support team will be notified and will review the evidence. If you are found to have cheated during your exam, you will be removed from the course and will need to re-enrol and pay for a new course.

The final exam has 50 multiple choice questions and a 60-minute time limit. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass the exam.

CIFS students also have unlimited attempts at writing the Food Handler exam included with every course enrolment. So, the exam can be written as many times as required as long as students are within their 30-day enrolement period and have not been suspected of cheating during any of the previous attempts.

Although the Food Handler Certificate exam isn’t difficult, it's essential for students to study the course material properly and understand the safety rules for handling, preparing and storing food in a way to best reduce the risk of individuals becoming sick from food-borne illnesses.

Of course. Our trainers provide student assistance via email and phone.

All of our trainers hold qualifications in both food safety and adult education, and are happy to assist students throughout the course.

A Food Safety Plan is an essential part of a Food Safety Program. A Food Safety Plan is a set of documents that are designed to identify potential food safety hazards in a food business. A Food Safety Plan must be unique and tailored to an individual food business — even food businesses that are the same type will have different Food Safety Plans.

By law, most food businesses in Canada are required to have a Food Safety Plan as part of their Food Safety Program. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it is also good business sense. Having a Food Safety Program in place, which includes a Food Safety Plan, is a good way for food businesses to keep food safety hazards from occurring in the business. This keeps customers and staff safe, and ensures that you are operating a top-notch food establishment.

Yes. Having a Food Safety Plan is a legal requirement for most food businesses in Canada.

A Food Safety Program is a set of procedures that a food business has in place in order to prevent food hazards and risks in the business. A Food Safety plan is written documents that detail potential hazards and risks in a food business and corrective actions to take should those occur.

A Food Safety Program is the implementation of the Food Safety Plan in the business.

The Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS) provides essential business solutions for Canadian food businesses. This includes providing helpful information and resources about Food Safety Plans.

CIFS has created the HACCP Food Safety Plan Kit as an essential program for food businesses that need help creating a Food Safety Plan. Food businesses can also contact us directly for more information about Food Safety Plans and the HACCP Food Safety Plan Kit.

The HACCP Food Safety Plan Kit provides food businesses with a variety of resources in order to create a HACCP compliant Food Safety Plan. The program comes with three instructional videos and four templates that food businesses can use to create their own Food Safety Plan. The kit also comes with Food Safety Plan examples to give food businesses an idea of how to fill out the templates and create their plan.

There are additional resources provided such as an informative guide called the Complete Guide to HACCP as well as posters and other signage for your business.

HACCP stands for ‘Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points’ and is a food safety and risk assessment plan that involves 12 steps and 7 principles. These HACCP steps and principles form the basis of Food Safety Programs. HACCP is essential for food businesses because the principles of HACCP are applied to all processes throughout the food supply chain and are key to managing food safety.

Health Officers will check a food business' Food Safety Plan when performing an audit of the business. They will review the Food Safety Program and the records you keep as part of your Food Safety Program. Food businesses can face fines or punishment if they are found to not have a Food Safety Plan or Food Safety Program in place.

Currently there are no regulatory bodies that govern or certify HACCP compliant Food Safety Plans. Food businesses are simply required to follow and implement HACCP principles in the business through a Food Safety Plan.

When you register for the CIFS Food Handler Certification Course, you'll receive a complimentary 12-month CIFS Membership. Membership can also be purchased on its own for $74.95/year. 

After purchasing a membership or registering in the course, you will receive an email with your member login information. We recommend that you keep this email for your records, or make a record of your username and password for future reference.

As a CIFS Member, you get unlimited access to our members-only Resource Library — including:

  • guides
  • posters
  • fact sheets
  • checklists
  • forms

CIFS Members also get newsletters and access to the most recent food recall information, allowing them to stay on top of the latest food safety news that could affect their business.

CIFS Memberships last 12 months. You will have the option to extend your membership at the end of each membership period for $74.95 for an additional 12 months.