SafeServ’s ServSafe CA Food Handler’s Notes and Experience

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How Long Does It Take?

For the course, if you fast-forward through all the videos, it takes about 45 minutes – 1 hour. Firefox has a max speed of 16x but they’re all separate videos so you gotta keep running the code.

It takes about 4 hours if you actually watch all the videos and follow the course. Honestly, I’d recommend it. The test is kind of tricky at some points. While some questions are easy, some questions are not as straightforward and the videos emphasize these tricky situations. My first time I read all the materials and got 100%. My second time (renewal) I skipped all the materials and got a 85%. Minimum passing score is 75%.

You need to finish the course to take the exam. The exam takes about 15-25 minutes but you get like over an hour to finish it. There’s 50 questions total. I have some high level notes below but I also found this website with much more thorough notes helpful to double-check my intuition.

Random aside: Chrome wouldn’t let me set my birth-date, so I had to use Firefox.

Exam Notes

Personal Hygiene

No nails or polish (or as allowed by local authorities)

Only plain metal band/ring. No watches, no studded rings, no jewelry.

Hair covering always.

It’s okay to use your hands for anything EXCEPT ready-to-eat like sandwich or dishes about to be served.

Report every sickness symptom to manager except headaches.

It’s okay to work with a cut hand, but you must have bandage and use a glove.

Always wash hands. Hand-sanitizer is for after washing hands. Wet. Soap. Scrub hands and arms for 13 seconds. Rinse. Paper towel dry and throw it away.

How to cool down food for storage

  1. 135F -> 70F in 2 hrs or else reheat
  2. 70 -> 41 in 4 hrs or else throw out

You can keep ready-to-eat foods for 7 days. TCS foods must be marked labeled with expiration date and reheat instructions if held for more than 24 hrs.

How to heat up foods

Seafood, steak, pork, fish 145F. Ground Beef 155F. Chicken and poultry 165F.

Reheat to 165 if holding or any temp for instant eat. Hold above 135F.

Reheat in microwave by heating to 165, stir, rotate, and reheat again.


Prefer to air-dry everything except hands. Why? Cross-contamination if you use a regular towel. Also sanitizers need time to work.

Everything (plates, utensils, surfaces) should be washed by: scraping chunks off into garbage, wash, rinse, sanitize, air-dry.

Dishwashers: scrape, rinse, then use the machine. Don’t overload.

For 3 compartment sink:

  1. First step is to clean the sinks
  2. Fill the wash and rinse with 110F and sanitize with 170F.

Store foods and Food Contact Surfaces (FCS)

Away from Cleaning supplies

6in off floor and walls

Fridge Order (top down) – lower risk/min-temp on top

  • Ready to eat
  • Whole Seafood
  • Whole cuts of beef/pork
  • Ground meat/fish
  • Whole/ground poultry

Big 8 allergens

Milk, Egg, Soy, Fish, Tree Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), Peanuts, Shellfish, Wheat



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