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In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the 2017 version of the model Food Code. The Food Code, updated every four years, provides the latest science based guidance and recommendations for safe food handling in retail and food service operations to reduce foodborne illness risk.
This model is offered for adoption to local, state and/or federal governing bodies responsible for ensuring the safety of food offered to the public through retail food stores, restaurants, vending operations and other food service operations as defined by the law. In Pennsylvania, the Food Code serves as the basis for retail food facility regulations throughout the state.
A press release issued by the FDA highlighted four significant changes.
- Revised requirement for the Person in Charge (PIC) to be a Certified Food Protection Manager (Section 2-102.12). The last version of the code stated that one person within the operation be a certified person. The update requires the PIC to be a Certified Food Protection Manager.
- Added a new section that addresses the use of bandages, finger cots or finger stalls (Section 2-401.13). This section details how a wound to the hand is covered and then covered by a glove until healed.
- Harmonized cooking time/temperature parameters for intact and non-intact meat and poultry (Section 3-401.11). Changes include the time for ground meat, injected meat and mechanically tenderized meat from 155 degrees F for 15 seconds to 155 degrees F for 17 seconds. Additionally, for poultry and stuffed meat the temperature remains the same at 165 degree F but is an instantaneous time, removing the 15-second hold time.
- Updated procedures for retail food operations to be able to continue service during extended water or electrical outages if a written emergency plan is pre-approved by the regulatory authority, corrective action is taken immediately to control risks in the case of an emergency and the regulatory authority is notified upon implementation of the plan (Section 8-404.11).
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) is in the process of communicating the changes to Pennsylvania facilities electronically, during inspections and through partner trade associations. The changes as outlined by the PDA are effective January 1, 2019 with the exception of the PIC, which will be fully effective in 2020.