A food handler's test may include questions about optimal cooking and holding temperatures for food, how to maintain a sanitary work space, how to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses, and how to clean and care for cooking implements. Each test contains different questions to assess a candidate's proficiency.
Questions are typically posed in simple language and use the same words occurring in food handlers study literature. One example of a test question is: "Hot food should be held at what minimum temperature?" Other examples include: "What temperature should you reheat food to before serving?" and "How should you cool a cooked 10-pound roast before refrigerating it?"
A food handler's test gauges a candidate's knowledge of the food code as established by the Food and Drug Administration with regards to safe food prep, cooking and sanitation in public spaces where the public consumes prepared food. Each state and county health department imposes certain variations on the health code, and questions regarding these variations occur on the corresponding food handler's test.
For example, the law in Oregon requires food handlers to wash their hands twice before handling food, whereas other states merely require food handlers to wash their hands once. Some counties in Oregon offer specific instructions about defrosting meat in a microwave, while other Oregon counties do not. In Oregon, the minimum hot holding temperature is 135 degrees Fahrenheit; in Minnesota, it is 140 F. Questions on food handler's tests given by each state reflect these differences.