1. Does a certified food protection manager need to be present at an establishment during all hours of operations?
  2. Are group homes required to have a certified food protection manager on staff?
  3. Does the alternate person in charge need to be a certified food protection manager?
  4. Must establishments notify the local board of health when a certified person in charge is terminated?
  5. May translators be used during the certified food protection manager exam?
  6. What happens to a person in charge who has failed the food protection manager exam because of a language barrier?
  7. Are food manager certification examinations available in different languages?
  8. Are food manager certification examinations in different languages acceptable in Massachusetts?
  9. What is the definition of "snacks" as it pertains to the certification exemption for daycare operations which serve only snacks, 105 CMR 590.003(A)(3)(b)?

1. Does a certified food protection manager need to be present at an establishment during all hours of operations?
No. Section 590.003(A)(2) requires that each food establishment employ at least ONE certified food protection manager.

  • The certified food protection manager must be a full-time equivalent, on-site employee, who is at least 18 years of age.
  • The certified food protection manager must have passed one of the four exams recognized by the Department.
  • The certified food protection manager must be someone who is directly responsible for overseeing the daily preparation of food and the routine operation of the establishment.

When the certified food protection manager is not present at the establishment, another employee must be designated to be the person in charge. The designated person in charge does not need to be certified, but must be trained by the certified food protection manager in food safety and foodborne illness prevention and have the authority to initiate necessary corrective actions.

All food establishments must have a designated person in charge present during all hours of operation.

2. Are group homes required to have a certified food protection manager on staff?
Group homes are operated by a variety of public and private agencies. Group homes vary in size from five to thirty-five residents, but an important element of such a facility is its home-like atmosphere. Group homes may or may not be licensed by local boards of health. For those that are licensed, a certified food protection manager may be required.

If the residents cook meals for themselves (as a group or as individuals), a certified food protection manager is NOT required.

If, however, staff is hired to cook meals for the residents, or if staff duties include meal preparation, then at least one staff person must be certified.

3. Does the alternate person in charge need to be a certified food protection manager?
No, the alternate person in charge is not required to be a certified food protection manager. Each establishment is required to employ at least one full-time equivalent certified food protection manager. When the certified person is not present at the establishment, another employee must be designated to be the person in charge. The designated person in charge does not need to be certified, but must be knowledgeable of food safety and have the authority to initiate necessary corrective actions.

4. Must establishments notify the local board of health when a certified person in charge is terminated?
The local board of health must be notified only if the establishment does not have another certified person in charge, or are unable to immediately replace the certified person. If at least one full-time equivalent certified person in charge is employed on-site, the local board of health does not need to be notified.

5. May translators be used during the certified food protection manager exam?
The Department does not take a position on the use of translators during examinations. The use of translators is at the discretion of the exam companies and training instructors.

6. What happens to a person in charge who has failed the food protection manager exam because of a language barrier?
If a person in charge has failed the food protection manager exam twice and has taken training, the establishment may apply for a variance from the local board of health to be exempt from the certification requirement, as stated in 105 CMR 590.003(5). The Department fully supports the issuance of such a variance for establishments that are in compliance with the other provisions of 590.000.

7. Are food manager certification examinations available in different languages?
Yes, food manager certification exams are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Russian, Armenian, French Canadian, and Arabic. Not all languages are offered by each of the four recognized exam companies.

8. Are food manager certification examinations in different languages acceptable in Massachusetts?
Yes, food manager certification examinations from one of the four recognized exam companies are acceptable regardless of the language of the exam.

9. What is the definition of "snacks" as it pertains to the certification exemption for daycare operations which serve only snacks, 105 CMR 590.003(A)(3)(b)?
Snacks include any of the foods listed in the definition of Continental Breakfast (105 CMR590.002) as well as any non-potentially hazardous foods and pre-packaged foods that do not require preparation.


This information is provided by the Food Protection Program within the Department of Public Health.