Food safety inspectors, also referred to as food science technicians, are responsible for evaluating food quality to ensure it meets the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To become a certified food inspector, you need prior training and experience. Although a college degree is not required to obtain a food inspector certification, it is certainly recommended. By earning a bachelor's degree in the field of food science or environmental health, you acquire valuable knowledge and skills you can draw from during the certification process.
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is the primary agency responsible for certifying food safety inspectors. This agency has been certifying food inspectors around the globe since 1937. The certified professional food safety (CP-FS) credential is the only certification NEHA offers for food inspectors, as of 2012.
The exact requirements for receiving your CP-FS credential varies, depending upon your educational background. If you have a bachelor's degree or higher, you need two years of food protection work experience to go along with your degree. If you have an associate degree or high school diploma, you need four to five years of food-related work experience plus proof of membership with a food related professional organization and 24 hours of continuing education courses.
Request your CP-FS credential by completing NEHA's Application For Professional Credential. This application can be downloaded from the NEHA website. The application asks for information such as your name, contact information, work experience verification and college transcripts. Submit the completed application, along with the application processing fee and CP-FS examination fee. At the time of publication, the total combined fee for non-members of NEHA is $320 and the total fee for NEHA members is $190.
Take and pass NEHA's CP-FS exam with a score of 75 percent or higher. This exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions that assess your food safety knowledge and skills. The exam is divided into eight sections, including causes and prevention of food-borne illness, knowledge of food safety inspections, facility and plan review, legal aspects of food safety, food safety education, consumer protection and awareness, knowledge of sample collection and interpretation of results, identifying and understanding pest control.
Once you earn your food inspector certification, you are required to renew it once every two years. To renew your credential, take at least 24 hours of food-related continuing education classes during the two year period leading up to your renewal date. You are also required to pay a renewal fee. At the time of publication, the renewal fee for non-members of NEHA is $325; NEHA members pay only $125.
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