MA Public Health Inspector Training
Food Certificate Program Course Guide

MA PHIT Food Certificate Program


MA Public Health Inspector Training Food Certificate Program (MA PHIT FCP) is designed to promote comprehensive and consistent enforcement of MA State Sanitary Code Chapter I 105 CMR 400.000: General Administrative Procedures and Chapter X 105 CMR 590.000: Minimum Sanitation Standards for Food Establishments (which incorporates portions of the 1999 Federal Food Code).

Intended participants are from municipal and state agencies charged with enforcement of these regulations. The goals of 105 CMR 590.000 are to safeguard public health and to provide consumers food that is safe, unadulterated, and honestly presented.  


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The program include classroom training, joint field training inspections supervised by Qualified Field Trainers, and completion of additional online courses. As resources, allow, standardization of inspectors will follow. Standardizaiton requires a minimum number of inspections supervised by a designated MDPH or FDA Standardized Inspector and submission of various plans, documents, and flow charts.


Program partners, led by Kathleen MacVarish at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), include FDA, Massachusetts Environmental Health Association (MEHA), Massachusetts Health Officers Association (MHOA), and MDPH Bureau of Environmental Health Food Protection Program.

The following organizations and individuals deserve special recognition for their contributions for planning the pilot and sustaining the program:


MEHA will administer the program annually, in partnership with LPHI and program partners. The LPHI Training Calendar will provide course dates and registration information.

Special Note

MA PHIT was recognized in 2012 by the National Association of County and City Health Officials as a Model Practice

Classroom Training

This is awareness level training that includes pre-requisites, four days of classroom training, and a graded open book/open code exam. Upon successful completion, participants will receive contact hours.

Learning Objectives


  1. A completed application that includes a signed release by a supervisor to allow trainee to complete the program requirements
  2. Possession of 1999 Federal Food Code. Participants MUST bring a copy to class.
  3. Proof of completion of the following course (estimated at 45 hours). Allow at least three months to complete the pre-requisites. Please note that certain Office of Regulatory Affairs online University (ORAU) classes may still be in development and therefore will not be initially required.  



LPHI Online Module

Food Protection

Available online and free of charge, but does requires registration


ORAU online courses (listed below)

Available online and free of charge for government regulators, but does requires registration (allow at least one week for processing)

FDA Introduction to Food Security Awareness

Currently only available as a pdf to read




All courses can be accessed from the ORAU icon above or from this url (, unless otherwise listed in the table.



Course Number



Basic Food Law for State Regulators


Basics of Inspection: Beginning an Inspection


Basics of Inspection:  Issues & Observations


Food Code Note :  Specific state laws & regulations to be addressed by each jurisdiction

 See LPHI Online Module Food Protection


Public Health Principles



Communication Skills for Regulators


Food Microbiological Control 1:  Overview of Microbiology


Food Microbiological Control 2A:  Gram-Negative Rods


Food Microbiological Control 2B: Gram-Positive Rods & Cocci


Food Microbiological Control 3:  Foodborne Viruses


Food Microbiological Control 4:  Foodborne Parasites 


Food Microbiological Control: Mid-Series Exam


Food Microbiological Control 5:  Controlling Growth Factors


Food Microbiological Control 6:  Control by Refrigeration & Freezing


Food Microbiological Control 7A:  Control by Thermal Processing


Food Microbiological Control 7B:  Control by Pasteurization


Food Microbiological Control 10:  Aseptic Sampling


Food Microbiological Control 12:  Cleaning & Sanitizing



Basics of HACCP: Overview of HACCP


Basics of HACCP: Prerequisite Programs & Preliminary Steps


Basics of HACCP: The Principles


Classroom Training Overview


Classroom Training

Schedule and Training Materials




Handouts for Binder


Food Regulations and Inspections

Overview of MA PHIT


  • Agenda and Instructors
  • Classroom Learning Objectives
  • Special Acknowledgement
  • PPT



Food Laws and Regulations

  • PPT
  • 105 CMR 400.000 and 590.000 and amendment
  • School Kitchen Amendments
  • 105 CMR 605.000 Approved Manual Choke-saving procedures
  • Allergen Regulations
  • Pot Luck Events Advisory
  • 105 CMR 590 Food Code Comparison Guide



A Day in the Life of Inspector John Sleuth


  • Scenario
  • Worksheet



Inspection Equipment



  • PPT



Basic Inspection Techniques



  • PPT
  • Jeopardy Instructions



HACCP and Risk-Based Inspections

Review of HACCP


  • PPT
  • Specialized Processes Exercise
  • MA Guide for Safe Handling of Shellfish at Retail
  • MDPH Sushi Guide
  • MDPH Sushi Rice Evaluation Tool
  • Sushi Rice HACCP Plan



Risk-based Inspections and Comprehensive HACCP Systems

  • PPT
  • Recipes
  • Table 1
  • Table 2
  • Risk Control Plan Scenarios
  • Risk Control Plan Guidance (from Michigan)
  • Risk Control Plan Example (from Virginia)



Violation Identification, Citation, and Documentation

Report Writing Basics


  • PPT
  • Worksheet



MA FEIR and Guide


  • PPT
  • MA FEIR [color]
  • Food Code Inspection Guide (print in color)
  • Worksheet for Inspection Report Exercise



Sli's Restaurant Activity


  • PPT
  • Sli's Menu
  • Blank Narrative page from MA FEIR



Enforcement and Corrective Actions


  • PPT
  • Correction Order Template
  • Product Disposition Form (example from North Carolina)Exclusion of Food EmployeesGuide
  • Sample Risk Control Plan
  • Brookline Examples
    • Tickets
    • Surcharges



Nice Try Simulated Inspection 

  • Worksheet



Communication and Foodborne Illness Investigation


Effective Communication Exercise

  • Scenarios and Worksheet



Panel: Best Practices in Communication




Foodborne Illness Investigation


  • PPT



Foodborne Illness Activity




  • PPT
  • Foodborne Illness Complaint Worksheet
  • Foodborne Illness Complaint Environmental Investigation Summary Report
  • Environmental Sample Submission Form
  • Food Worker Interview Form



Joint Field Training

After successfully completing classroom training, joint field training is available. Participants must attend a preparation workshop.


Learning Objectives (Performance)

After successful completion of joint field training, participants will be able to:

Preparation Workshop Materials

Field Training Requirements

# Joint Inspections* (minimum)


Type of Food Establishments



Participant has at least 3 years of regulatory food inspection experience


Participant has completed 100 independent regulatory food inspections


High risk

For each joint inspection:

  • Before. Participant contacts trainer to schedule the inspection.
    • Plan on conducting inspections in trainer's community
    • 1:1 ratio preferred
    • Accompany multiple trainers, if possible.
  • During. Together, participant and trainer
    • Review Field Training Manual and Field Training Worksheet
    • Conduct inspection and complete MA FEIR
  • After.
    • Trainer completes Field Training Worksheet and submits to MDPH and participant
    • MDPH consults with trainers, as necessary
    • Participant updates the Training Log

When all inspections are done:

  • Participant submits a copy of completed Worksheets and Training Log to MA PHIT administrator
  • Administrator advises MDPH
  • MDPH verifies the work and issues a letter verifying that they have completed field training and are now a Qualified Field Trainer (QFT)
  • QFT are expected to act as trainers for future MA PHIT FCP participants


Participant has less than 3 years of regulatory food inspection experience


Participant has not completed 100 independent regulatory food inspections


High risk with at least one low and one medium risk

*Note: Reduced inspection numbers may be allowed if a participant demonstrates proficiency in all required competencies as determined by the trainer(s), in consultation with MDPH.





Additional Online Courses

After successfully completing joint field training, participants can take additional online courses. These courses are required for standardization. Click on the ORAU or FEMA icons to access the courses.



Active Listening Skills  



Foodborne Illness Investigations 1: Collecting Surveillance Data 


Foodborne Illness Investigations 2: Beginning the Investigation


Foodborne Illness Investigations 3: Expanding the Investigation 


Foodborne Illness Investigations 4: Conducting a Food Hazard Review 


Foodborne Illness Investigations 5: Epidemiological Statistics


Foodborne Illness Investigations 6:  Final Report



Food Microbiological Control 7C: Control by Retorting


Food Microbiological Control 8: Technology-Based Food Processes


Food Microbiological Control 9: Natural Toxins


ALLERGEN Management


Food Allergens




Introduction to Incident Command System (ICS)

IS-100a or IS-100 for FDA

ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents


National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) Introduction




MDPH, as resources allow, will standardize MA PHIT FCP participants who have completed the online courses listed above if they agree to continue to act as trainers. Upon successful completion of all standardization activities, participants will receive a letter and certificate from MDPH that identifies them as a MA Standardized Retail Food Inspector. The letter verifies that they have demonstrated the ability to apply knowledge of the current FDA Food Code, HACCP principles and methods of controlling foodborne disease risk factors to retail food establishment inspections.

MA Standardized Retail Food Inspectors can also standardize other inspectors within their own jurisdiction who conduct regulatory retail food inspections.

Learning Objectives

Standardization Guides and Documents

FDA Procedures for Standardizing Inspectors

FDA Procedures for Trained Regulatory Staff

FDA Standardization Field Workbook




Communication Study Article

Conference for Food Protection (CFP)

Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net)



Local Public Health Institute of MA

MDPH Food Protection Program


FDA Program Standards

FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards that act as a guide to regulatory retail food program managers in the design and management of a retail food regulatory program and provide a means of recognition for those programs that meet these standards.

FDA Standardized Inspector

See Standardized Inspector

Food Safety Inspection Officer (FSIO)

See Standardized Inspector

Joint Field Training Inspections

A training process where a MA PHIT participant accompanies a MA PHIT Qualified Field Trainer on routine regulatory food inspections. The Qualified Field Trainer imparts knowledge, demonstrates communication skills, and ensures that the participant can identify violations of all regulatory requirements and develop a risk control plan for identified, uncontrolled risk factors.

Joint Inspections

See Joint Field Training Inspections


Massachusetts Public Health Inspector Training Food Certificate Program - a voluntary training program to promote comprehensive and uniform enforcement of MA State Sanitary Codes Chapter X 105 CMR 590.000: Minimum Sanitation Standards for Food Establishments.


Office of Regulatory Affairs on-line university. ORAU is one of FDA's specialized program centers.

Qualified Field Trainer

MA PHIT FCP level two completer who allows MA PHIT participants to accompany him/her on joint field training inspections.

Risk Category

Division of food establishments into a grouping based on operational practices and populations served. Examples follow:

Routine Regulatory Food Inspection

A full review and evaluation of a food establishment's operations and facilities to assess its compliance with applicable laws and regulations, at a planned frequency determined by the regulatory authority. This does not include reinspections and other follow-up or special investigations.

Standardized Food Safety Inspection Officer

See Standardized Inspector

Standardized Inspector

An Inspector who has successfully completed the training elements in Steps 1 through 4 as outlined in FDA Program Standard No 2 and has been recognized by MDPH as having field experience, communication skills, and knowledge of the program policies and procedures necessary to supervise field training and standardization of other inspectors.

Training Standard

FDA term for a Standardized Inspector deemed qualified to not only field train but to standardize other inspectors.