Thursday, November 14, 2013

FDA Issues 2013 Food Code

The FDA issued the new 2013 Food Code, the model for handling and preparation of food offered to consumers. This model establishes the most up-to-date food safety practices based on current scientific thinking The Food Code applies to retail and foodservice operations and the agencies who inspect those facilities. The food code is adopted in full or in part the states and local jurisdictions in developing their own regulations. Pennsylvania adopts the entire Food Code as it is updated. The Food Code is also used by the food processing industry in that it provides support documentation for practices used within FDA food operations (cooking, cooling, etc). Click here for summary of changes.

There are only a few significant changes from the 2009 version, however there are many minor changes that update the language of the previous version.

  • Language changes include:
o PHF or Potentially Hazardous Food is now Temperature Control for Safety Food (TCS), and the Potentially Hazardous Foods is completely eliminated.
o Defines Shiga Toxin Producing E. coli (STEC) to include all E. coli that are capable of producing Shiga toxin. 
  • One of the biggest changes is the inclusion of non-typhoidal Salmonella in the list of reportable illnesses. In the past versions, from all the Salmonella species, only the highly contagious Salmonella typhi was considered in the list. So now all species of Salmonella that cause illness are reportable, and thus require to be addressed in employee health controls (exclusion from the operation, return to work requirements, etc). (In Annex 3 – Table 2-20112 provides a table on exclusion and return to work for this and the other reportable pathogens).
  • A section was added to provide provisions for refilling containers brought from home from refill. (Of course, this would cover the refilling of growlers).
  • Section 3-501.11 requires that frozen fish package in ROP packaging be removed from that packaging PRIOR to starting the thawing process.
  • With regard to ROP packaging - All TCS foods packaged in ROP packaging require a HACCP plan, but only TCS food that is ROP packaged that do not control for growth of and toxin formation by C. botulinum and growth of Listeria monocytogenes needs a variance. Note that ROP packed non-TCS foods are not included (so if one is vacuum packing hard candy or dried beans, no requirement for a HACCP plan...outside of FSMA).
  • More on ROP Packaging - Section 3-502-12 Reduced Oxygen Packaging without a Variance – Criteria - this whole section discusses ROP packaging and should be referenced by anyone who is planning to vacuum pack product. Additional support information is provided in Annex 3 - Section 3-502-12 . Along with 3-502-12, section 8-201.14 requires the permit holder to submit a properly prepared HACCP plan before engaging in processing Reduced Oxygen Packaging foods.
In FDA's Constituent Update, there post some additional changes.
These include
  • Restaurants and food stores must post signs notifying their customers that inspection information is available for review.
  • Revisions to the minimum cooking temperatures associated with procedures such as non-continuous cooking and circumstances under which bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods is permitted.
  • Stronger requirements for cleaning and sanitizing equipment used in preparing raw foods that are major food allergens.

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