Friday, April 25, 2014

FDA releases Food Code Reference System

FDA has released the Food Code Reference System, (FCRS) a search tool for providing additional information on questions posed to FDA on various provisions in the Food Code. It can be used when looking for specific issues that may come up. For example:
Can a wait staffer or server not involved in food prep have artificial nails? ? Short answer from what was posted – no.
What is the maximum strength allowed for a chlorine hand dip? ? Short answer from what was posted – there is no maximum, only a minimum of 100 mg/L of chlorine?
Are eggs that have been pasteurized in the shell shelf stable? Short answer – no, but they are free from Salmonella.
So this may be a useful site when you have a specific question and are looking for support documentation. However the amount of items in the database is limited and you may not find what you need. And I found that the answers could be somewhat basic. For example, a question on allergens and cooking oil is pretty simplistic in its response. It gets to the fact that allergens from food can be transferred by oils, but does not get to a question that is often posed, ant that is, what is defined as a refined oil.  

Possible reason is that the database has answers that were posted over a 8 or so year range, and so these questions/answers may not provide sufficient depth to some of the more complex questions that arise today. Perhaps as time goes, these questions will be posed to FDA and then this information will become searchable on the database.

Overall, I find that the information listed in the Annex section of the 2013 Food Code (the section that supports the 2013 Food Code) to be a better source for supporting documentation, however, for more specific questions you may come across, the FCRS can be a tool to find that answer.   

One other issue….the FDA website is sooooo slooowwwww.

FDA Constituent Update
FDA Releases Searchable Database - Food Code Reference System
Latest effort to strengthen understanding and application of the FDA Model Food Code
April 21, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created the Food Code Reference System1 as part of an effort to promote consistent understanding and application of the FDA’s Food Code.

The FDA Food Code -- a model that has been widely adopted by state, local, tribal and territorial regulatory agencies -- provides FDA’s best advice for a uniform system of provisions to address the safety and protection of food offered at retail and in food service. The food code assists 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. 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.

The new Food Code Reference System, a searchable database that answers questions users may have about the Food Code and the application of its model regulations, will help to promote nationwide consistency and increase transparency about the Food Code.

Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies; consumers, and stakeholders from academia and industry will benefit from this database as they promote compliance with their respective food safety requirements throughout the United States.

The Food Code Reference System contains entries derived from responses to Food Code-related questions posed to FDA.

Initially, users of the FCRS will find more than 20 entries that clarify many issues including:

The storage of foods that require temperature control for safety.
The design of food establishments and the cleaning of food equipment.
Bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods
Preventing contamination of food through proper hand hygiene and employee attire 

The FDA intends to add entries it believes are important to the uniform application of the Food Code and that may have implications across all jurisdictions that regulate food establishments. These entries will reflect questions previously answered by FDA as well as responses to future inquires that FDA receives.

The Food Code Reference Systems contains a User Manual and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page, both accessible from the log-in page. After an initial registration, system users can search the database using dropdown menus, keyword search, date fields, or a combination of these options. Users can also retrieve, view, and save documents to a local computer system. The materials contained in the Food Code Reference System are developed and issued by the Retail Food Protection Team in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

More information on FDA’s Food Code Reference System is available at Questions about the use of FDA’s Food Code Reference System can also be sent by email to:

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