If you want to start your own Florida restaurant or food business, it’s important to make sure your staff has the proper training.
Florida state law requires all restaurants and food businesses to have a certified food manager. Most of these businesses must have a food manager on-site during all hours of operation.1
To earn their food manager certification, Florida employees must pass an exam administered by an approved provider. For more information about how to become a certified food manager in Florida, review the following guide covering these topics:
- Who needs a food manager license in Florida?
- How to get Florida food manager certification
- Food manager certificate verification
- Florida certificate renewal requirements
- Florida food manager certification reciprocity
- Insurance requirements for Florida restaurants
Who needs a food manager license in Florida?
Most food businesses in Florida must have a certified food manager on-site during all hours of operation when food storage, preparation, or service is taking place.
This applies to all establishments with three or more employees handling food at once time and establishments serving highly susceptible populations, such as immunocompromised individuals. This may include:
- Food trucks
- Detention facilities
- Fraternal organizations
- Schools using a contracted food service provider
- Residential facilities, such as assisted living facilities, adult day cares and hospices
Food businesses and restaurants may need multiple certified food managers on staff to cover all shifts. The manager(s) for each business must be designated in writing and must earn their Florida manager food safety certification within 30 days of being hired.2
If an establishment has two or less employees working with food at one time and serves the general population, a certified food manager must be designated but does not need to be present at all times.
Food manager requirement exemptions
The food manager requirement does not apply to the following types of food service establishments:
- Bars and lounges
- Civic organizations
- Public and private schools where school employees operate food service
Florida food manager certification vs. food handler license
Besides certified food managers, other Florida restaurant and food business employees must complete an approved food handler training program within 60 days of employment. Those who complete the program earn a food handler certificate.3
Florida food handler license requirements apply to most employees at food service establishments, even if they don’t directly prepare food. This includes servers, hosts, bartenders, and on-site event coordinators.
The certified food managers are responsible for ensuring that the food handlers on staff follow food hygiene practices. Because these employees are trained in proper food preparation and handling techniques, they help protect your business by reducing the risk of foodborne illness.
How to get Florida food manager certification
Florida employees must pass a food manager certification exam to obtain their food safety manager certification. The test must be administered by one of the following providers approved by the Florida Department of Health:
- 1 AAA Food Safety
- Always Food Safe
- National Registry of Food Safety Professionals
Employees needing help preparing for the exam may use any food protection courses, study guides, or written materials available from these providers. However, employees are not required to complete any training before taking the exam.
The food safety certification exam may be taken online or in person in many cities across Florida.
Florida food manager license fees
To take the exam to become a certified food manager, Florida employees should plan to pay around $25 to $50. Exact costs vary by provider.
Completing a training program and the exam can cost around $75 to $100.
How long does it take to get a food manager license in Florida?
Exact times to complete the exam may vary by provider. However, employees usually finish the exam in one to two hours. Some providers, such as StateFoodSafety, have a two-hour time limit for the exam.4
The total time to complete both a training course and exam is typically around eight hours.
After successfully completing the exam, certificates may be issued instantly or sent by mail.
Food manager certificate verification
As a restaurant or food service business owner, you must keep proof of your food service managers’ certifications on file. This information must be available upon request during inspections by the Department of Health.2
Florida certificate renewal requirements
Renewal is required every five years for certified food protection managers. Florida employees must retake the test to maintain their certification.
Florida food manager certification reciprocity
If an employee passes the food protection manager certification exam from one of the approved providers while working in another state, Florida offers reciprocity as long as the certification is still valid.5
Insurance requirements for Florida restaurants
To help protect your restaurant or food service establishment, consider getting Florida business insurance. Restaurant owners in the state may want to consider the following insurance options:
General Liability insurance
Florida general liability insurance can help provide important coverage if your business is held responsible for property damage or an injury to someone besides you or an employee.
Food service general liability insurance can also help provide coverage specific to restaurants. For example, foodborne illness coverage can help protect your business if customers get sick from contaminated food.
Workers’ Compensation insurance
Florida workers’ compensation insurance can help provide coverage for medical bills and lost wages if an employee gets hurt on the job. Most businesses in Florida with four or more employees are required to have workers’ comp insurance.
Commercial Property insurance
Commercial property insurance can help protect your business’s physical assets, including commercial buildings, equipment, furniture and inventory. This coverage can help pay for repairs or replacements after a covered event, such as a fire or burst pipe.
Commercial Auto insurance
Commercial auto insurance can help cover costs like property damage and medical expenses if your or an employee gets into an accident while driving a work vehicle.
In Florida, all vehicles must have minimum auto insurance coverage of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL).6
How NEXT supports Florida restaurant owners
NEXT provides tailored Florida restaurant insurance policies designed for small businesses and self-employed business owners.
It only takes about 10 minutes to get a quote, review your coverage options, choose your policies and download a certificate of insurance.
Our team of licensed insurance advisors is standing by to assist you if you have any questions along the way.