The Newest Revisions of the Food Code

Revisions of the Food Code for your restaurant

Posted: Jun. 20, 2018

Every four years the FDA revises its food safety code, and the final revisions are in for 2018. See what changes to implement at your restaurant or food service business.

Over 20 years ago, a deadly E.coli outbreak changed the way food preparations were regulated in restaurants. Nearly 1,000 people suffered from terrible symptoms and three died. The source: 11 ground beef patties prepared by Von Companies and sold by Jack in the Box restaurants in three states.

There was more to blame than just contaminated meat. Prior to the outbreak, Jack in the Box restaurants had received multiple warnings from health officials and their employees for undercooking their burgers. Instead of complying to the WDOH standard of 155 degrees Fahrenheit, the San Diego-based company ignored the temperature in favor of a lower heat.

Critics could accuse the company of carelessness, but the higher-ups made the decision with the intention of providing a better product. At 155 degrees, they believed a burger patty was too tough to enjoy. In favor of safety, they opted for customer satisfaction.

When you know exactly where your beef comes from, serving an undercooked burger can be safe. Yet as Falko Molitor, General Manager of the supreme steak restaurant Smith & Wollensky tells it, it is possible to eat a rare burger, but better not: “If harmful bacteria is present in the middle of the burger which hasn’t been cooked, it may survive and make you ill.”

The kind of patty-surveillance that’s necessary to confidently sell undercooked burgers is nearly impossible for a fast food chain like Jack in the Box, where thousands of burgers are sold every week. Unfortunately, to the detriment of their customers’ health, harmful bacteria was present.

During this horrific outbreak, the food industry and regulatory bodies sprung into action. From the industry side, restaurants and processing facilities decided on measures of “doneness” of hamburgers and implemented other control steps that minimized the risk of E.coli.

The USDA classified E.coli as an adulterant, making the distribution of contaminated products punishable by law. Additionally, the 1993 outbreak kick-started the way foodborne illnesses were reported, with surveillance services like PulseNet (which was instrumental in stopping the most recent E.coli outbreak from spreading like wildfire).

Over the years, events like E.coli outbreaks created the Food Code; a safeguard for public health that ensures consumers are buying food that is safely prepared and honestly marketed. The standards are followed by local, state, and federal jurisdictions, and every four years, the regulations are revised, amended, or added to according to new research.

As the owner of a restaurant, you are no doubt familiar with the Food Code. Here’s what’s new in 2018:

The Person-in-Charge

The PIC must now be a designated person within the company and a certified manager. He or she must be on-site, available at all times, and present during every shift when the facility operates.

The Time to Cook Ground Meats

The cooking time for ground meats is longer. While the temperature remains at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, the cooking time is now required to be 17 seconds; two seconds longer than before. It should be clarified that this is not the total cooking time, just the time it takes to cook through the thickest part or the center of the food. The extra two seconds ensures that harmful pathogens are killed off.

Covering Cuts

The prick of a knife can happen on a shift. The 2018 Food Code requires you to cover cuts on the hands and fingers with a finger cot or impermeable bandage. That’s not all, single-service gloves must be worn over the covering.

Since local and state governments don’t integrate the new Food Codes right away, check with your local, regional, and state departments for updates on their food safety regulations. Complying with the Food Code ensures that your business isn’t cited, (or worse—closed!) and serves as a guideline for safely preparing food for your customers.

Do you operate a food truck? See what steps to take to get your food truck ready for health inspections.

 

 

 

Posted: Jun. 20, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois

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