Illinois food manager license and insurance requirements

Illinois food manager license and insurance requirements

Ashley Henshaw
By Ashley Henshaw
Mar 13, 2023
8 min read

You’ve put together a delicious menu for your Illinois restaurant. But before you can start serving food, you’ll need to make sure your employees meet state requirements for safe food handling.

The Illinois Food Code requires every restaurant and food business to have a certified food protection manager (CFPM) on-site during all hours of operation. To earn this certification, employees must complete an eight-hour training course and pass an approved exam on food safety.1

We’ve put together this helpful guide to Illinois food manager certification to help you prepare your staff for the job at hand. Read more about the following topics:

Who needs a food manager license in Illinois?

If you operate a restaurant or a business that serves food, you must have a certified food protection manager. Illinois’ Department of Public Health (IDPH) requires each food business to have a CFPM on-site during all hours of operation, so you may need to have more than one on staff to ensure that all shifts are covered.

If you don’t have any employees and plan to operate the business on your own, you’ll need to maintain your own food protection manager certification.

FSSMC vs. CFPM certification

Previously, the IDPH required a separate Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification (FSSMC). Beginning in 2018, the IDPH stopped issuing FSSMC certifications. 

The IDPH now requires a CFPM certification. Workers who still have valid FSSMC meet the requirement, but when that certification expires, they must obtain CFPM certification.2

Chicago Food Service Sanitation Certificate

In Chicago, restaurants and businesses that serve food must meet an additional requirement for food safety.

A Person In Charge (PIC) must always be on the premises when food is being prepared or served. The PIC must have a Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) food service sanitation certificate from an approved training program.3

Employees with a valid CFPM certification from a training program approved by the American National Standards Institute – Conference for Food Protection (ANSI-CFP) may be able to apply for reciprocity.

Food manager certification vs. food handler license

In addition to having at least one employee with food manager certification, Illinois restaurant and food business owners must also ensure the rest of their staff is properly trained.

In this state, anyone who works with unpackaged food, food-contact surfaces, food equipment, and utensils must obtain a food handler license within 30 days of employment. To earn this license, employees need to complete an approved food safety course and pass an exam.

The Illinois food handler license requirements typically apply to hosts, servers, bussers, on-site event coordinators, kitchen staff and bartenders. The state exempts unpaid volunteers, temporary food establishment employees and employees already certified as food protection managers.

Certified food managers supervise food handlers to ensure proper food safety practices. In addition to complying with state law, making sure your employees have the proper training and certification also helps to protect your business by reducing the risk of foodborne illness.

How to get Illinois food manager certification

To get a food manager license, Illinois employees must complete a training program approved by the IDPH. After completing the training, they must pass an exam approved by the ANSI-CFP with a score of at least 75%.4

Training courses and exams are available online and in person. These courses cover a number of topics related to proper food handling, such as:5

  • Personal hygiene
  • Cross-contamination
  • Time and temperature
  • Receiving and storage
  • Food safety management systems
  • Training hourly employees

Illinois food manager license fees

The cost to get your Illinois food safety manager certification varies depending on which ANSI-approved provider you use. Generally, the cost for both the training course and exam is around $100 to $150.

Many providers offer materials to help prepare employees for the training and exam for an added fee.

Restaurant owners in Illinois are not required to cover the cost of the food manager certification. A food manager certificate is considered the employee's property, and they are permitted to use it at other businesses if they change jobs.

How long does it take to get a food manager license in Illinois?

Illinois CFPM courses are eight hours long. This also includes the exam.5

After completing the exam, certificates may be issued instantly or sent by mail.

Food manager certificate verification

Restaurant and food business owners are responsible for obtaining proof that each CFPM has completed the required food protection course and exam.

Proof of certification for these employees must be available upon request by state or local health department inspectors. Physical and electronic certificates are accepted.1

Food manager certificate renewal requirements

Renewal is required every five years for food safety manager certification. Illinois employees must retake the training course and the exam to renew their food safety certification.1

Illinois food manager certification reciprocity

The IDPH offers reciprocity for employees who already have a food manager certification from a CFP-approved program. 

To qualify for reciprocity, the employee must have moved to or started working in Illinois within the last six months. Reciprocal certification expires on the same date listed on the certificate.4

Insurance requirements for Illinois restaurants

To protect your business from everyday risks, it helps to have the right Illinois business insurance policies. Some of the insurance options available for restaurant owners include:

General Liability insurance

Illinois general liability insurance can help provide coverage if your business is held responsible for an accident that causes property damages or an injury to a third party. 

Food service general liability insurance can help protect against additional industry-specific risks. This foodborne illness coverage may help protect your business if a customer gets sick from contaminated food or food prepared incorrectly.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

Illinois workers’ compensation insurance can help cover medical expenses and lost wages if an employee gets hurt while on the job. In Illinois, all businesses with at least one employee must carry workers’ comp insurance. 

Commercial Property insurance

Commercial property insurance can help protect your physical business assets, such as inventory, furniture, equipment and buildings. This insurance may help pay for repairs or replacements for damaged business property when a covered event occurs, such as a burst pipe or vandalism. 

Commercial Auto insurance

Commercial auto insurance can help cover medical expenses, property damage and other related costs if you or an employee gets in an accident while driving a company vehicle. 

In Illinois, all vehicles must meet the minimum auto insurance coverage requirements of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and $20,000 for property damage.7

How NEXT supports Illinois restaurant owners

NEXT provides tailored Illinois 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.

Start an instant quote online today.


1 Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act

2 Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM)/Food Service Sanitation Manager (FSSMC)

3 Food Service Sanitation Certificate

4 Changes to Food Safety Certification and Recertification Requirements

5 ServeSafe Manager Book, 7th Edition

6 Automobile Insurance Guide

7 Mandatory Insurance Brochure

Illinois food manager license and insurance requirements


Ashley Henshaw
About the author

Ashley Henshaw was a contributing writer at NEXT. She specializes in small business topics, covering everything from insurance and branding to web hosting and cryptocurrency.

Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, AOL City's Best, Citysearch, USA Today, The San Francisco Chronicle and Livestrong.

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