In its latest step to increase the safety of the American food supply, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a Retail Food Safety Action Plan that includes several measures to help assure the safety of food sold in food stores, restaurants, schools, and other foodservice operations in the United States.
The Action Plan focuses on improving the way managers of these establishments conduct food safety operations in their facilities, as well as improving the oversight of these establishments by public health agencies at the Federal, state and local levels. The Plan specifically calls for strengthening State and local food safety requirements that apply to these establishments and for improving training for personnel on measures to keep food safe.
In support for the Action Plan, FDA also today announced that it has established a cooperative agreement with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). Under this agreement, FDA and NACCHO will promote the use of best practices by local authorities and develop tools to strengthen retail food safety oversight and implement FDA’s Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards for retail food regulatory programs.
Also in support of the Plan, FDA today announced issuance of a Supplement to the 2009 FDA Food Code that includes a new and important recommendation that retail food establishments employ at least one certified food protection manager to ensure adherence to safe practices and standards within the establishment.
The FDA Food Code is a set of model food-safety regulations for keeping food safe at retail and food-service operations including restaurants, schools and food stores. Local, state and tribal authorities use the Food Code to develop or update their own food safety rules to be consistent with national food regulatory policy. Keeping the Food Code current with this supplement is part of FDA’s effort to promote its full adoption and implementation by State, local and tribal authorities across the United States. The new Supplement incorporates recommendations from the 2010 Biennial Meeting of the Conference for Food Protection.
Key changes to 2009 Food Code recommendations contained in the new Supplement include:
- requiring that food establishments have a certified food protection manager on staff (new §2-102.12);
- Including among the established duties of the person-in-charge, the following (modified §2-103.11):
- that all operating procedures required by the Food Code are developed and implemented;
- that it can be verified that all employees are informed about their obligation to report certain health conditions that relate to transmission of foodborne illness; and
- that any food the establishment receives after operating hours is delivered in a manner that does not create a food safety hazard;
- Requiring that food establishments have a plan for responding to and properly cleaning-up after an employee or other individual becomes physically ill in areas where food may be prepared, stored or served. (new §2-501.11);
- Clarifying appropriate exceptions to the prohibition of bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods prepared in the establishment (new ¶3-301.11(D)):
- Clarifying the requirements for the safe storage and display of ground and whole-muscle meat and poultry (modified §3.302.11);
- New requirements for devices used to generate chemical sanitizers on- site in the food establishment (new ¶4-501.114(F)) ;
- Establishing clearer guidelines for the amount time a food establishment should be given to correct violations of different types of provisions in the Food Code. (modified ¶8-405.11(B));
FDA encourages its State, local and tribal partners to adopt the latest version of the FDA Food Code. Members of the FDA National Retail Food Team, including officials from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and Retail Food Specialists located in Regional Offices around the country, are available to assist regulatory officials, educators, and the industry in their efforts to adopt, implement, and understand the provisions of the FDA Food Code. Inquiries may be sent to CFSANretailfoodprotectionteam@fda.hhs.gov.