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New Year’s Coming … So Is a New FDA 2013 Food Code

Happy Holidays from all of us at Bilingual Hospitality Training Solutions! Our main mission is to provide quality and affordable food safety employee training as well as Food Service Manager Certification Training. We have chosen to use the ServSafe program as the core of our training and testing resources. Whichever program you choose, I’ll guarantee that all the programs approved are based upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code.  I participated in a training webinar recently that provided interesting updates and changes being announced to the 2013 Food Code.

The FDA is the oldest consumer protection agency in the United States and dates back to 1848. The FDA has changed over history, but their mission is always consumer protection and health. Covering food safety and regulatory matters, the FDA publishes the Food Code. The Food Code recommendations serve as a model to assist “food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating the retail and food service segment of the industry. Local, state, tribal, and federal regulators use the FDA Food Code as a model to develop or update their own food safety rules and to be consistent with national food regulatory policy.” in Maryland, the State has their modified and enforced version which is called Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). Each Local County Health Department then has their own version of COMAR. In real life, operations must be in compliance with local health department regulations.

Between 1993 and 2001, the Food Code was issued every two years.  Then the FDA decided to issue the complete FDA Food Code every four years with the approval and support of the Conference for Food Protection. During the interim period, a Food Code Supplement that updates, modifies, or clarifies certain provisions was made available.” Complete updates, changes and additions from the 2009 FDA Food Code and the Supplement to the 2009 Food Code Chapters and Annexes to the 2013 edition can be found at this link.  www.fda.gov

Some of the changes made are corrections of terms or wording. For example one change made was “to clarify that the requirement to wash hands before donning gloves is specific to the beginning of a task involving working with food and not during the task.” Makes sense. I always found that to be implied. Please find my interpretation to follow of some of the changes that I find interesting to come into effect:

  • ROP foods were amended to add the term sous vide. If using ROP products, no HACCP plan is required if keeping it for no more than 48 hours at 41°or less.
  • TCS foods require cold holding and hot holding during storage for display.
  • Hand antiseptic is considered a food additive.
  • Nontyphoidal salmonella is being added to the big five of foodborne illnesses that must be reported to the local health department if an employee has this foodborne illness as well as salmonella typhi. This makes it 6 illnesses required by law that will have to be reported to the local regulatory agency.
  • An establishment cannot sell mushrooms harvested in the wild unless approved by the local regulatory agency.
  • Cleaning and Sanitizing is required of equipment used for fish and then meat to avoid allergen contact, but the equipment is not required to be cleaned and sanitized for meat and before poultry as the cooking temperature for poultry is higher than the cooking temperature for meat used on the equipment prior.
  • Defrosting of ROP frozen fish procedures were modified. Thaw fish in fridge in an open package or under running water open or closed.
  • The one that I think will cause the most controversy if it’s adopted statewide or locally will be: 8-304.11 – which states a new requirement for food establishments to post a sign/placard for the public saying that their inspectional review information is available for review upon request.

What do these updates mean to us? Until these changes are incorporated on a state and local level, they are not affecting an operation until the state and local laws are modified to incorporate the FDA Food Code recommendations. The FDA Food Code is a guidance document with recommendations. We shall have to wait and see what changes are incorporated as a food establishment state-wide as well as locally and then make changes accordingly in our work places.

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. www.bilingualhospitality.com, juliet@bilingualhospitality.com or 443-838-7561. For latest food safety tips: Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter: @BHTS

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