New Year, New Menu: Time to Revise Your Menu Consumer Advisory Wording … For Real

Happy New Year’s Everyone! Food Safety is always an important topic in our business and I always like to believe that your yearly training is being planned into your yearly budget as part of your New Year’s beginnings. You might also be considering the revamping and reprinting your menus at this time of year. Let me help you.

As food operators we recognize that there are some foods that we sell, while delicious – do not actually meet the critical limits in regards to food safety and are not in compliance with FDA Food Code recommendations when prepared. These foods would be recognized as high-risk foods not only to those in high-risk populations, but also to the general public. Examples would be: raw or undercooked fish or meat, unpasteurized juice, alfalfa sprouts, eggs over easy, raw shellfish, items containing raw egg as an ingredient. What this means, is you need to give a consumer advisory on your menu.

There are several ways to word your consumer advisory. Until recently, most establishments have posted a standard all-encompassing consumer advisory as, “Those in high risk populations, i.e., the elderly, pregnant women, young children or sick – please consult with your physician before consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs.”

In Maryland, the Baltimore City Health Department is asking that the consumer advisories be more specific and not only place the consumer advisory, but also to place an asterisk next to each food item considered high risk on your menu. Generally, my experience is that once one agency makes a change – all others follow suit.

If you are revamping your menu and have items on your menu that are raw or undercooked, you will need to indicate clearly on the menu which items fall in this category.

I suggest you change your advisory to this wording:

“Consuming raw or undercooked animal foods may increase your risk of contracting a foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.

* This item is served raw or undercooked or contains raw or undercooked ingredients.”

Then place the * next to each menu item that fits under that category.

For further information in Maryland, COMAR, check Section F for specific details. 

Happy New Year’s to you all from all of us at BHTS.

About the Author

Juliet Bodinetz is executive director of Bilingual Hospitality Training Solutions and has over 30 years industry and training experience. She and her team of instructors specialize in food safety, alcohol training and ServSafe training in English or in Spanish and writing HACCP Plans in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area., or 443-838-7561. For latest food safety tips: Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter: @BHTS

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