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(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
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505-827-9329 (24 hrs)
New Mexico
Environment Department
Food Program

Food Handler Card

Food Handlers Card Requirement

Food Employees (persons who handle food, utensils, and food contact surfaces), who do not qualify for an exemption as outlined below, or do not possess a valid Certified Food Protection Manager certification, must have a food handler card beginning April 1, 2019.  

Food Handler Card Exemptions Beginning April 1, 2019

Employees who qualify for the following exemptions must still receive training from their place of employment that is applicable to the food-related job duties he/she performs.  Facility owners/managers must keep record of this training for the duration of the person’s employment and make it available to NMED. 

For employees who qualify for Exemptions 1-3 below, facility owners/managers are required to provide food safety training in one of the following ways:

  1. Create and deliver their own training program,
  2. Utilize a third-party program, or
  3. Use the training program created by NMED.   

To access NMED’s training program click here.

Further questions related to the Food Handler Card Exemptions should be directed to the District Field Office closest to you.

2019 Approved Exemption #1

Food Employees who only handle non-TCS foods are exempt, provided the permit holder (facility owner or designee) provides training and maintains record of training. 

2019 Approved Exemption #2

Employees or volunteers who occasionally function as Food Employees are exempt, provided the permit holder (facility owner or designee) provides training and maintains record of training. 

Examples include: restaurant hosts, teachers assisting with family-style dining, and nurses/therapists assisting patients.

2019 Approved Exemption #3 (Temporary Events)

Food Employees, or volunteers working as Food Employees at Temporary Events, are exempted, provided that the permit holder (facility owner or designee) provides training and maintains record of training. 

NOTE: Person-in-Charge of the Temporary event during all hours of operation must have a Food Handler Card or be a Certified Food Protection Manager.


2019 Approved Exemption #4 (Same as 2016 Version)

NMED may approve an entity’s (Company’s) training program to be used in lieu of requiring a food handler card of its food employees that require Food Handler Cards.

·       Food employee must complete entity’s approved training program at least every three years.

·       Exemption is only valid during the food employee’s time of employment with entity that administered the training.

To obtain an application, please contact Alejandra Talamantes at: or (505) 222-9500


Harold L. Runnels Building // 1190 St. Francis Drive, Suite N4050 // Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505 // tel (800) 219-6157, (505) 827-2855

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