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Changes Proposed for Foodservice Operations

Posted on 4/16/2012 by Sheryl Emory

Changes Proposed for Foodservice Operations

The standard for evaluating foodservice establishments to maximize food safety and minimize the risk of food poisoning is the Food and Drug Administration’s 2009 Food Code. Forty-nine out of 50 states are currently using a version of the Food Code that was written in 1993 or later. North Carolina is the only state remaining that continues to use rules based on the 1976 Model Foodservice Code.

The rules that are used to evaluate foodservice establishments in North Carolina such as restaurants, carry-out food stands, school cafeterias, nursing home kitchens and others are currently inspected and evaluated using rules that are based on the 1976 code. While there have been changes and updates to these rules through out the years, the changes have not kept pace with the most current science regarding food safety. It is for this reason that a committee of food safety experts, regulatory agents and foodservice industry representatives have recommended that the state of North Carolina move forward with adopting the 2009 Food Code by reference and updating the rules that will be used to evaluate foodservice establishments in North Carolina.

The proposed rules to adopt the 2009 Food Code by reference (with amendments, additions, and deletions) and repeal 15A NCAC 18A .2601-.2645 have been published in the North Carolina Register and can be accessed here.

Click here to view the proposed rules, fiscal note, information related to the public hearing in Raleigh, and instructions for submitting comments.

FOOD CODE RULES ADOPTION TIMELINE
February 2012 - Rules to be filed
May 2012 - Commission for Public Health (CPH)
September 1, 2012—Proposed Effective Date

Town Hall Meetings
Date Location
April 20
10:00 am
Bladen County Health Dept.
300 Mercer Mill Road
Elizabethtown, NC
April 24
3:00 pm
Haywood Community College
Auditorium Building #1500
185 Freelander Drive
Clyde, NC
April 25
2:30 pm
Mooresville Public Library
304 S. Main Street
Mooresville, NC
April 27
10:00 am
Central Carolina Community College
764 West Street
Pittsboro, NC
April 30
2:00 pm
Martin Community College
1161 Kehukee Park Road
Williamston, NC
Building 1, Room 14
Public Hearings
Date Location
April 12
2:00 pm
NC Division of Public Health
5605 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC
Building 3
April 17
10:00 am
Wilson County
Agricultural Building
1806 SW Goldsboro Street
Wilson, NC
April 25
10:00 am
McDowell Technical College
54 College Drive
Marion, NC
Harold Smith Building, Room 113

Background

The N.C. Food Safety Rules Committee, a stakeholder group comprised of local, state and federal government officials, industry and academia, studied the 2009 U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code and voted in favor of North Carolina adopting the Food Code. Since that time, a lot of work has been completed to help North Carolina transition to the Food Code.

The Importance of Adopting the Food Code

  • Provides a uniform and up-to-date code
  • Used as a basis for regulation in 49 states
  • Establishes practical, science-based guidance and enforceable provisions for mitigating risk factors known to cause foodborne illness
  • Combines North Carolina’s current enforcement and grading system with the best science to protect the public’s health
  • Industry conformance with acceptable procedures and practices is more likely when regulatory officials “speak with one voice”
  • Stays current—updated every four years
  • Effectively ends the constant need to amend rules to catch up to the Food Code (piecemeal approach)
  • FDA will serve as a resource to assist with education, interpretation, and training

Food Code Adoption Plan

The plan is to adopt the 2009 Food Code by reference and incorporate additions and exceptions that are unique to North Carolina law. In addition, rulemaking to update the Code will only be necessary once every four years, which will contribute to improved program efficiency.

Adoption of the Food Code will immediately provide a safer food supply because of changes to final cooking temperatures for pathogen destruction, no bare hand contact of ready-to-eat food, cold holding temperatures phased in to 41ºF, and other science-based requirements. North Carolina’s enforcement, legal remedies, and rating system will be maintained and incorporated into the new administrative rules. The current posting of letter grades with numeric scores is not proposed to change. In addition, other items that are not covered in the Food Code (e.g., temporary food establishments, mobile food units) will be included in the new rules.

Transition Team

A transition team has been assembled to ensure that there is a smooth transition from the current administrative rules (15A NCAC 18A .2600) to the proposed adoption of new administrative rules that will adopt portions of the Food Code by reference. The Transition Team chairs, Bill Hardister (Mecklenburg County) and Andre Pierce (Wake County), will manage the work of the following workgroups to meet this goal.

Workgroups

  • exceptions and additions, and draft rules in accordance with North Carolina codification requirements.
  • Food Code Manual Writing Workgroup—Purpose is to develop the manual that will correspond to the administrative rules.
  • 2600 Rules Comparison Workgroup—Purpose is to review the .2600 rules and highlight anything that is NOT in the Food Code (e.g., TFE, MFU, Inspection and Grading) that will be carried over as an “addition” to the adopted Code.
  • Fiscal Analysis Workgroup—Purpose is to develop Benefits and Costs for adoption as required by the rulemaking laws and rules.
  • Inspection Form Workgroup—Purpose is to revise the inspection form to reflect the adoption language and references and maintain the current format.
  • Training Workgroup—Purpose is to coordinate training for Registered Environmental Health Specialists and industry.

Conclusion

Completion of this task will bring North Carolina’s citizens and visitors a food safety protection program that will serve to better protect public health at the time of adoption and into the future. For questions, call (336) 703-3225