Banner Food Safety: Keeping you and your family, and our county's many visitors, safe from foodborne illness.

WASHINGTON STATE RETAIL FOOD CODE RULE UPDATE

The Washington State Retail Food Code (“Food Code”) (Chapter 246-215 Washington Administrative Code) is the set of regulations that food establishments need to follow.  The Food Code was recently revised and the updates go into effect on March 1, 2022. 

We want to make sure you are as prepared for these changes as possible.  We have created educational materials and are holding two question and answer sessions that we hope you can attend, both of which can be accessed below.  And as always, you can reach out to your inspector with any questions you may have.  If you are not sure who your inspector is, just call 360-728-2235 and ask to speak with the food inspector of the day.  Any of us should be to help you out!

food code updates

Although we could not create educational material for all the updates made to the Food Code, we were able to highlight the main ones.  If you are interested in seeing all of the changes, click here

After you have had a chance to review the information, do not hesitate to contact us at 360-728-2235 if you have any questions that we can help with!  Note that the bullets shown for each topic below only summarize the topic and you may need to see the whole handout for more details if the topic pertains to you and your establishment. More resources will be added as they become available.

EMPLOYEE HEALTH- Start working on this now*

  • Food workers must inform the person in charge if they are diagnosed with Norovirus, all types of Salmonella, Hepatitis A virus, Shigella, and Shiga-toxin producing E. coli.
  • Food workers must inform the person in charge if they have diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), an infected wound that is open and draining, or a lesion on the hands or wrists that is puss filled.
  • *The person in charge must provide employee health/illness information to food workers and be able to verify that the employees have been trained on this information. Verifiable methods of proof of training include:
    • Clearly posting this information for food workers throughout the establishment with a sign-off sheet for employees.
    • Create a training curriculum with a roster of employees that have been trained.
    • Keep a signed statement for each employee that demonstrates that the information has been made available to employees and that they are aware of the requirements.
    • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

WRITTEN PROCEDURES FOR CLEAN-UP OF VOMIT & DIARRHEA- Start working on this now*

  • *Each establishment must have written procedures that describes how and by whom clean-up should happen if someone has a vomit or diarrhea event in your business.  The plan:
    • Needs to be customized for your establishment.  What works at one restaurant may not work at another restaurant.
    • Must be aimed at minimizing the spread of pathogen contamination and exposure to employees, consumers, food, food contact surfaces.
    • Should outline which employees/positions at the establishment are responsible for clean-up.  Employees with the least interaction with food handling and service should be trained and responsible for cleanup procedures.
    • Should include how to closely monitor employee health for the development of symptoms in the aftermath of cleanup events and employ restrictions and exclusions where necessary.  Norovirus and other highly infectious pathogens are present in vomit and diarrhea.
  • For a worksheet to help you formulate your plan, click here.
  • Always have a clean-up kit on hand and a copy of the written procedures on site. Use an approved disinfectant that is effective against Norovirus.
  • For additional information on this subject please click here.

DATE MARKING- Start working on this now*

  • To control the growth of Listeria, certain refrigerated, ready-to-eat (RTE), time/temperature control for safety (TCS) foods that are prepared in-house or in opened commercial packages must be date marked with a 7-day serve, sell, or discard date.  
  • Date marking only applies to refrigerated, RTE, TCS foods when they are kept for more than 24 hours.
  • *Establishments can use any effective date marking system, including color coding, a calendar date, or days of the week and can mark food with either the day 1 date or day 7 date.
  • For a worksheet to help you formulate your plan, click here.
  • The day that in-house food is prepared or commercial food is opened or unsealed counts as day 1.
  • A written plan is not required, but all food workers must understand the establishment’s chosen system.
  • Not all foods need to be date marked.  See the Date Marking Handout (linked below) for a complete list of exempted foods.
  • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

CERTIFIED FOOD PROTECTION MANAGER- You have one year for completion*

  • *The certificate of your Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) must be available for inspection by March 1, 2023.
  • The CFPM must be certified by completing one of the six approved American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Food Manager tests that meet the requirement. Here are the approved courses.
  • The training focuses on active managerial control (AMC).
  • CFPM is responsible for training persons in charge on food safety and implementation of food safety training at the establishment. CFPM is responsible for training the person in charge to be able to demonstrate knowledge of food safety and maintaining AMC.
  • There must be one CFPM on staff. They do not always have to be on-site, but the certificate must be made available upon request.
  • If the CFPM leaves employment for any reason, the establishment has 60 days to hire a new CFPM.
  • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

REFILLING REUSABLE CONTAINERS- Start working on this now if applicable*

  • *Food establishments can submit a written plan for your inspector to approve to allow consumers and employees to refill visibly clean consumer-owned containers with food.
  • For a worksheet to help you formulate your plan, click here.
  • A written plan is not required for the following scenarios:
    • A consumer-owned container is refilled with a beverage by an employee or the consumer with a contamination free dispensing system.  The container must be returned to the same customer.
    • A multi-use food container is washed, rinsed, and sanitized by the food establishment and refilled with food.
    • A consumer-owned container of any kind is refilled at a water vending station.
    • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

PET DOGS IN OUTDOOR & SOME INDOOR AREAS- Start working on this now if applicable*

  • Limited access for pet dogs may be allowed only in specific situations and under required conditions; this information does not apply to service animals. The highlights for this topic are below, but for additional information on this subject, please click here.
  • For a worksheet to help you formulate your plan, click here.

    OUTDOOR AREAS:

    • *A written plan of operation which has received prior approval from your inspector must be in place before you can begin allowing dogs in the outdoor areas of your establishment.
    • The written plan must address specific conditions, which are outlined in our handout.  Be sure to reference the handout (linked above) to ensure each condition is included in your plan.

    INDOOR AREAS:

    • Only food establishments that hold a Tavern (No Food) type of permit may qualify to allow dogs in their indoor areas, and not all facilities will be able to meet the requirements for this allowance.
    • Be sure to reference the handout (linked above) because there are specific conditions that must be met to qualify for this allowance.
    • *Before dogs are allowed in the indoor areas of Tavern (No Food) facilities, you must have notified you inspector in writing in advance.

CONSUMER ADVISORY- Start working on this now if applicable*

  • Raw, raw-marinated, partially cooked, or marinated partially cooked fish must be frozen to destroy parasites that can cause illness. Parasites are not destroyed by pickling, salting, or cold smoking.
  • Fresh, unfrozen finfish such as halibut or salmon that are partially cooked can be served only upon consumer request and described on the menu as “fresh fish (can be cooked to order)” do not require parasite destruction freezing processes.
  • *The consumer advisory footnote on your menu should read “Regarding the safety of consuming fresh, partially cooked fish, information is available upon request.”
    • *For undercooked fish, a separate identifying symbol from the consumer advisory you may already have on your menu should be next to the menu item to identify the consumer advisory. 
    • Depending on your menu, you may have the need for two different consumer advisories to be on your menu with separate symbols indicating which advisory belongs to which specific menu item.
    • *We highly recommend you reach out to your inspector for menu review to ensure consumer advisories are correct on your menu before you print more.
    • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

TIME AS A PUBLIC HEALTH CONTROL- Start working on this now if applicable*

  • Currently, foods using time as a control for food safety must start at either 41°F or less or 135°F or more.  The rules were updated to allow certain foods to start time-as-control from room temperature, so long as they do not exceed 70°F at any point.
  • This update only applies to foods that become TCS foods by cutting into them (such as whole tomatoes or a head of lettuce) or removing from packaging (such as opening a can of beans). All other foods cooked in-house must start time-as-control above 135°F or below 41°F.
    • Example: Whole tomatoes do not need to be temperature controlled until they are sliced. This update allows time-as-control to be used on freshly sliced tomatoes that do not exceed 70°F at any time when time as a control is in effect.
    • Example: This update allows time-as-control to be used on a tuna salad made with freshly opened canned tuna that does not exceed 70°F at any time when time as a control is in effect.
  • *Written procedures must be prepared in advance and maintained at the food establishment before you can begin using time as a public health control.
  • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

COOKING TEMPERATURES- Start working on this now if applicable*

  • The cooking temperature for ground meats, ratites (flightless birds such as an ostrich), mechanically tenderized meats, and injected meats has changed to 158°F or more for <1 second (instantaneous) rather than 155°F for 15 seconds. 
  • *You are still allowed to cook to only 155°F, but the temperature now must be held for at least 17 seconds. A written plan that has received approval from your inspector must be in place prior to implementing this time/temperature combination in your establishment.
  • The plan must address how your staff will monitor both the time and temperature portions of this cooking allowance.
  • The cooking temperature for poultry, baluts, wild game animals, stuffed fish/meat/pasta/poultry/ratites, or stuffing containing fish/meat/poultry/ratites was updated to 165°F or more for <1 second (instantaneous); previously, you had to cook those items to 165°F or more for at least 15 seconds.
  • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

BAREHAND CONTACT WITH READY-TO-EAT FOODS- Start working on this now if applicable*

  • The updated Food Code clarified that barehand contact with ready-to-eat ingredients (such as peeled carrots, sliced onions, and shredded chicken) is allowed as long as the food will be cooked to at least 145°F before being served.
  • *If your establishment has demonstrated strong active managerial control, you could apply to use barehand contact with other ready-to-eat foods.  If you would like to apply to obtain this allowance, there are additional requirements you should know about first:
    • Prior approval must be obtained from our office.
    • An annual training program is now required, in addition to existing requirements.
    • If the allowance is discontinued for any reason, it may not be reinstated without prior written approval from our office.
    • A log of reportable illness symptoms (see the Employee Health section above) must be maintained or 90 days (in addition to complying with all other employee health requirements)
    • For additional information on this subject, please click here.

TIME/TEMPERATURE CONTROL FOR SAFETY (TCS) FOOD- Name change only

  • Foods that are required to be kept cold at 41°F or less or hot at 135°F or more were previously referred to as potentially hazardous foods (PHFs).  They are now called time/temperature control for safety (TCS) foods.
  • Examples of these foods are meats; seafoods; cut melons; cut tomatoes; cut leafy greens; cooked starches like pasta, rice, and beans; sprouts; dairy products; cooked produce; and fresh herb or garlic-in-oil mixtures.

ACTIVE MANAGERIAL CONTROL (AMC)- New definition added

  • Every food establishment must have a designated person in charge (PIC) at all times.  The PIC is responsible for ensuring active managerial control (AMC).
  • AMC means taking a proactive and preventative, rather than reactive, approach to managing the aspects of food safety in the establishment through continuous monitoring, training, and verification. 
  • Example: It is not enough to assume that a food worker is cooking meat to the correct temperature.  A PIC should train the food worker on correct temperature taking procedures, monitor the worker throughout the day to make sure they are taking temperatures they way you trained them, and then occasionally verifying that the meat is being cooked to the right temperature by taking your own temperatures of the meat.  The PIC will correct the food worker or process if issues are found.

MOLLUSCAN SHELLFISH TAGS- Procedure change

  • Molluscan shellstock includes in-shell oysters, clams, and mussels.  Currently, shellstock tags must be kept for at least 90 days after the shellstock is sold or served.  When the last date of the shellstock batch is sold or served, the “out” date is written on the tag belonging to that batch.
  • Now, in addition to the “out” date, the “in” date must be written on the tag.  This is the date the batch of shellstock is first sold or served.

SIGNAGE FOR INSPECTION REPORTS

  • A sign or placard must be placed in an easy-to-view location for customers to let them know how they can view your last inspection report.
  • You can print a sign from our office that meets this requirement (click here for color and here for black and white) OR
  • You can design your own sign.  It will just need to include directions explaining how customers can get to your inspection reports on our website.
  • All inspection reports can be found on our website.


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