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FDA releases 2009 Food Code

The Food and Drug Administration has released its new 2009 Food Code, a guide for regulating the retail and food service segment of the food industry. The food code covers such topics as training, food handling, hygiene, sanitation, proper storage and temperature control and water safety and includes new rules or changes for leafy greens and hamburger.

The FDA sees its 2009 FDA Food Code as a key component of President Barack Obama’s framework for maintaining a safe food supply. The code is designed to provide all levels of government with practical, science-based guidance and enforceable provisions for mitigating known risks of foodborne illness.

“The FDA is spearheading an important initiative to improve the nation’s food safety system by establishing a fully integrated national system with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial regulatory agencies,” said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Food Code adoption is important for achieving uniform national food safety standards and for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our nation’s food safety system.”

Among the provisions:

  • Cut leafy greens are now included among the foods that require time and temperature control for safety.

  • Requirements are added to improve food worker awareness of food allergen concerns in the food service and retail setting.

  • Serving hamburgers and other ground meats in an undercooked form upon a consumer’s request is no longer an option for items offered on a children’s menu.

  • Several requirements related to the effective cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and surfaces are enhanced or clarified.

“The importance of the food code is control of pathogens at the retail level,” said Glenda Lewis, leader of the FDA’s retail food protection team. For example, she said, retailers should be aware of how they receive food shipments. “If it was supposed to be frozen, did you get it frozen?”

In addition,“the code provides standards on food itself, but also on such issues as when to send an ill employee home,” Lewis said.

To help retailers train employees on such issues as personal hygiene, hand-washing and food handling, a satellite broadcast is planned for May, Lewis said.

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