Whether you are a food service manager or an employee, using current best practices in safe food handling is essential to keep your food establishment in compliance and protect the health of both customers and staff. You’ll have the opportunity to take an exam to be certified as a Food Protection Manager.
Intended audience: Food service managers and employees
Format: One 6-hour course plus certification exam
Certification: Upon successfully passing the exam, certified by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation as a Food Protection Manager
Cost: $150 ($100 if a member of Iowa Restaurant Association)
Cost will increase to $160 ($110 for Iowa Restaurant Association members) for classes offered after January 1, 2021.
For those with oversight and management responsibility in any type of foodservice operation, ServSafe® is the food safety certification course developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. ISU Extension and Outreach partners with the Iowa Restaurant Association to provide the ServSafe® program.
Iowa Food Code requires at least one employee in a food establishment who has supervisory and management responsibility and authority to direct and control food preparation and service be a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). ServSafe® is one of several programs accredited by the American National Standards Institute - Conference on Food Protection in meeting CFPM requirements. ServSafe® blends the latest FDA Food Code and food safety research. Participants learn current best practices related to safe food handling and cleaning/sanitizing and other food safety essentials. ServSafe® certificates are valid for five years.
- Course includes a resource workbook.
- Courses are taught in English, unless otherwise noted in the title of the course listing.
- Registration for each course closes three weeks prior to the course date. Due to demand, some courses may fill prior to the registration deadline.
- Payments may be made with American Express, Visa, MasterCard or Discover and will appear on your statement as a charge from ISU CPM.
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why is ServSafe certification necessary in Iowa?
Legislative change in the Iowa Code began on January 1, 2014. Food establishments are required to have a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). Food safety education is a priority to reduce foodborne illness outbreaks, which can lead to severe illness and even death.
Does this course meet the Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) requirement of the 2009 FDA Food Code (with the 2011 supplement) that Iowa implemented beginning on January 1, 2014?
Yes, upon passing the ServSafe exam, one is considered a CFPM.
How do I know if I need to take this course?
Visit with your local health inspector.
Who teaches the course?
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has offered this program for over 20 years. Human sciences specialists in nutrition and wellness are registered instructors and proctors.
Where and when are classes offered?
Classes are regularly offered across the state of Iowa. View the list of upcoming ServSafe courses.
What are the class cancellation policies?
ALL payments are final and nonrefundable. If unable to attend on the course date for which you registered, you will have six months from the original course date to transfer your registration and payment to another course date. Beyond six months, payments will not be refunded and you will not be allowed to transfer the payment to another class date.
Classes are subject to space availability and may be cancelled if a minimum number of registrations are not received by the deadline. You will have six months from the original course date to transfer your registration and payment to another course date. Beyond six months, payments will not be refunded and you will not be allowed to transfer the payment to another class date. Extenuating circumstances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
What is the average class size?
Class size depends on space available at the class location as well as proctor to student ratios established by ServSafe. Most classes range from 10-30 students.
How much does it cost?
$150, which includes the course book, class, and exam administration. There is a discount for members of our partner program, the Iowa Restaurant Association. Upon verification of membership, the discount will be credited to your account.
Re-take exam: Those who did not pass the exam and need to re-take will be assessed $50.
What language(s) is the ServSafe book available in?
English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean
What languages is the class/exam available in?
All classes, unless otherwise noted, are taught in English. Some courses led in Spanish are available. Check the ServSafe events page and look for “taught in Spanish” in the title to find a course offered in Spanish.
Exams can be ordered in the languages/versions listed below. If registering online, you will indicate on the registration page which language/version you would like. All exams other than English are bilingual (questions are written in both English and the selected foreign language).
English Chinese/English French Canadian/English Japanese/English Korean/English Spanish/English Large print (in English only) Instructor (in English only)
How do I check my exam score and print my certificate if I passed the exam?
Review the exam section for detail about accessing ServSafe score and certificate.
There are two options to re-take the exam. You need to re-register to take the exam again at this website.
Option 1: (Recommended) You are encouraged and welcome to attend and sit through another scheduled class before re-testing. There would be no charge to listen to the information in the course again since you have already taken the full course. However, there is a charge of $50 to cover the exam cost. Contact the class instructor regarding the time to arrive. Option 2: If you want to come and only re-test toward the end of the day when there’s a scheduled class, it will cost $50.
What if I don’t pass my exam?
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (ServSafe) has explicit guidelines on their retest policy:
An examinee may take the exam twice within a 30-day period, if necessary. If three or more attempts are required, the examinee must wait at least 60 days from their last attempt. No more than four attempts are allowed in a 12-month period. Not passing the exam is the only legitimate reason to retest.
If I take a ServSafe course/exam in Iowa, will my certificate be valid in other states?
Visit the ServSafe website to learn about various state requirements.
How long is my certificate valid?
Once you successfully pass the exam, your certificate is valid for 5 years.
What is the format of the exam?
The exam is composed of 90 multiple choice questions.
What score is needed to pass the exam?
A score of 75% or higher must be achieved.
How much time is given to complete the exam?
Can I take the class online?
ServSafe handles the management of online courses. Check the ServSafe website for more information.
I took the class online and need a proctor for my test. What do I do?
You can select the re-take test option ($50) associated with each course on the online registration form. You will come on an afternoon when a regularly scheduled class is occurring and take the exam with the rest of the class participants.
- RESULTS WILL BE AVAILABLE WITHIN 10 BUSINESS DAYS OF TAKING THE EXAM. To check your results,
you will need your exam session number (7 digit number provided), e-mail address, and access to a device with internet access. Contact the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation via live chat, phone, or email with questions about accessing your exam score or certificate.
Create a profile to check exam score:
- Go to ServSafe homepage Select "Create New Profile"
- Enter your name, email address (you must use the same address as what was entered on your exam answer sheet), contact information, user name, password, and exam session.
- Once your profile is created, hover over the "Score" tab at top of page > select "Check My Scores" Select the exam format > select "Next" Enter your last name and the exam session number (7 digits) to access your score.
If you passed the exam, hover over the "Certificates" tab at top of the homepage > select "View/Print Certificate" to access a copy of your certificate.
If you did not pass the exam, there are two options to re-take the exam. You need to re-register to take the exam again.
- Option 1 (recommended): You are encouraged and welcome to attend another scheduled class before re-testing. There would be no charge to listen to the information in the course again since you have already taken the full course. However, there is a $50 charge to cover the exam cost.
- Option 2: If you want to come and only re-test toward the end of the day when there’s a scheduled class, it will cost $50.
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (ServSafe) has a retest policy:
- An examinee may take the exam twice within a 30-day period, if necessary.
- If three or more attempts are required, the examinee must wait at least 60 days from their last attempt.
- No more than four attempts are allowed in a 12-month period.
- Not passing the exam is the only legitimate reason to retest.
- Reasonable accommodations may be available upon request. Examples include:
- Reader (have exam read to you)
- Separate room or alternate exam location
- Extra time (up to 50%)
- Sign language interpreter
All exam accommodation requests are handled exclusively through ServSafe. Links to accommodation request forms are found below. If you decide to apply for an accommodation(s), you need to submit the corresponding forms:
- Request for Exam Accommodation + Reader Guidelines and Reader Nondisclosure and Confidentiality Agreement (Appendix F)
- Request for Foreign Language Translation + Translator Nondisclosure & Confidentiality Agreement (Appendix G)
Request Forms - If you want more information on how to submit for an accommodation(s), first review these forms:
- How to Request Exam Accommodations - Guidelines and FAQs
- How to Request Foreign Language Translations - Guidelines and FAQs
You need to allow at least two weeks for ServSafe to process any accommodation request. It is YOUR responsibility to notify your instructor of an approved accommodation. Instructors need to be notified at least three weeks prior to the class date of your approved accommodation. If you do NOT let your instructor know of a confirmed and granted Accommodation Request at least 3 weeks prior to the class date, you will NOT be allowed to take the exam on the class date. This means you would need to take the exam on another date - at your expense. Adequate time is needed to make arrangements for an additional room and proctor. Contact information for your instructor is provided in your registration confirmation e-mail. You will receive this confirmation e-mail as soon as your registration is complete and payment has been submitted.
Dictionary Use - Examinees who want to take the exam in English are permitted to use a printed bilingual English-native language dictionary (e.g., English-Spanish) during the exam. The use of a dictionary needs to be reported by proctor. English-language dictionaries are not allowed. Dictionary will be inspected by the proctor at check-in.