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Frequently Asked Questions

Safe Food Handling Programs & Courses

Alberta Health Services (AHS) Provincial Certification Food Safety Courses
Mini Food Safety Courses




How do I obtain my provincial certification in food safety?

You must attend an AHS provincial certification course (or another approved training course, such as ServSafe) and receive 70% or more on the exam. A certificate will be issued to you and your name will be added to the Provincial Registry.

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How many of my food facility staff are required to have provincial certification?

Section 31 of the Alberta Public Health Act Food Regulation requires the following:

If six or more food handlers are working on the premises at one time (including chefs, cooks, kitchen helpers and servers), at least one manager with provincial certification must be on site at all times.

If five or less food handlers are working at one time, at least one manager must have provincial certification.

If you own more than one facility you must employ a separate manager with provincial certification for each site.

If your food facility serves or sells only unpackaged food that is not potentially hazardous, you are not required to have provincial certification.

If your facility deals only with pre-packaged goods (no opening of packages or sampling occurs on site), you are not required to have provincial certification.


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What are the AHS provincial certification course details?

Cost: $125 (No GST)

Course length: 2 days (8:00am - 4:30 pm)

Group Rate: $75/person, 15-30 people.

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Are AHS provincial certification courses offered to private groups?

Private AHS provincial certification courses can be arranged for a minimum of 15 and maximum of 30 participants at a cost of $75/person. The course instructor(s), course materials and exam proctoring will be provided. The group requesting the course is responsible for arranging the course facility, audio visual support and refreshments. Please call 403-943-2890 for more information.


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When does provincial certification expire?

There is no expiry date once provincial certification is obtained, but it is recommended that certification be updated every five years. Also, a public health inspector may require you to update your certification.

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Are provincial certification courses offered in the rural areas of the Region?

Yes. AHS provincial certification courses are offered on a regular basis in Banff, Canmore, and Okotoks. Courses are offered in other areas such as Strathmore, Airdrie, High River and Claresholm, depending on demand.

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English is not my first language. Are courses available in other languages?

Yes. Courses are scheduled 2 - 3 times a year and a Vietnamese course is offered every summer.

All other courses are in English and exams are in English.

We offer oral exams as needed. Please let your instructor know if you might require a verbal exam. You can bring a language translation dictionary to the course.

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My English reading skills are limited. I may need help with certain terms used in the course or on the exam. What options are available at the course?

The instructors can help you. Please let them know if you would like help with the exam.

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Can you challenge the food sanitation & hygiene certification exam?

No. You will be required to retake one of the approved courses to obtain an Alberta Food Sanitation and Hygiene Certificate.

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I have taken food safety training in another province. Does this training meet Alberta requirements?

Current certificates from the following approved courses meet Alberta training requirements:

FOODSAFE Levels 1 & 2 - offered by the province of British Columbia


In B.C. you are required to take Level 1 of FOODSAFE. In Alberta you are required to complete both Level 1 and 2 of FOODSAFE and obtain a mark of 70% on the exam.

Advanced.FST - offered by TrainCan


Foodwise - offered by the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors


ServSafe - offered by the United States National Restaurant Association


NFSTP - offered by the Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Association


TAP - offered by the Canadian Food Safety group


Note:Professional cooks and chefs who have obtained food safety education at a post secondary institution but do not have a current certificate from an approved course may choose to challenge the exam.

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What are the differences between the two day AHS provincial certification course and the mini food safety course?

The two day course meets the requirements for provincial certification in food sanitation and hygiene, and provides more in-depth information on foodborne illness, safe food handling and food facility operation. An exam must be successfully completed at the end of the course. Owners, managers and head kitchen staff should take this course.

Two day AHS provincial certification course outline:

Day one (8 hrs):

  • Introduction to food safety
  • Microorganisms and foodborne illness
  • Receiving and storing food
  • Preparing food
  • Serving food
  • Personal hygiene

Day two (8 hrs):

  • Cleaning and sanitizing
  • Foodborne illness organisms
  • Introduction to HACCP
  • Managing for food safety
  • Design, maintenance and pest control
  • Exam

The mini food safety course is an introduction to food safety. This course covers the basics in foodborne illness; safe storing, preparation and serving of food; personal hygiene; and cleaning. This course is suitable for kitchen staff, servers and volunteers in the food industry. Owners, managers and head kitchen staff should take the two day course.

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I want to learn about basic safe food handling. What is available?

We offer a hour home study course and classroom courses. Both take 2-3 hours to complete. These courses do not meet the requirements for provincial certification.

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What are the mini food safety course details?

Courses are offered to the public on a regular basis and are free of charge.

Private courses for 15 or more participants can be arranged, free of charge.

A home study course is availableincludes a booklet, video and a quiz that must be completed.

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Do I get recognition for taking a mini food safety course?

Yes. Successful participants receive a certificate or wallet card stating that they have completed a course in basic safe food handling. This course does NOT meet provincial certification requirements.

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Is the mini food safety course available in other languages?

The home study course is available as a booklet in Traditional Chinese, Punjabi, Vietnamese, Korean and Arabic.  Please call 403-943-2890 to have a booklet mailed to you.

The classroom courses are available in Cantonese. Special courses are sometimes arranged in other languages such as Korean and Japanese. Please call 403-943-2890 for more information.

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