If you want a job in a place where food is served, you must to have a valid food handlers card from your local health department. It's a state law. If it's not the right card, you cannot work in food service until you retake the test and get a valid certificate. But state investigators say thousands of local workers got duped.
According to the state Attorney General, a website operated by eFoodhandlers, Incorporated, out of Oregon used deceptive practice with its website. Thousands of local food workers believed they had the correct website and completed the process for food handler training and testing. The state says more than 11,000 also purchased food worker certification cards on the site for $10. But the certification cards offered by Efoodhandlers are no good in Washington state.
"So when folks go to the website and take that training and buy that certificate, they're not getting the papers that they need to work in the food service industry in the state of Washington," explained Senior Assistant Attorney General Shannon Smith. "People believed they were getting a legitimate food safety card and they didn't get that."
After a 6-month investigation, the Attorney General sued Efoodhandlers over the deception. Under a new settlement, food workers in Washington who paid Efoodhandlers for food safety certification cards will get their money back.
"People will get a refund from the company," said Smith. "They will send a check and they should be getting those refunds in September."
Investigators say the typical refund will be $10 or $20 dollars. In the meantime, if you or anyone you know works in the food industry - spread the word. The only place to get a valid food workers certificate is through your local county health department. And the only entity approved by the state to provide online training and certification is the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.