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What You Should Know About New FDA Food Code

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Jill Hollingsworth

by Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director of Communications and External Affairs

The FDA Food Code is actually not a regulation – each regulatory jurisdiction must determine if they will adopt the new 2022 Food Code.

To review key changes in order to see, before they become law, how these amendments could impact independent grocers’ store operations, NGA and Ecolab hosted a recent webinar as part of their continuing food safety partnership.

Jill Hollingsworth, Ecolab’s VP of food safety and retail industry relations, highlighted some of the most significant changes in the 2022 Food Code and provided insight into how retailers can start planning now for future food safety regulations. 

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

Breaking the code. Published every four years, the FDA Food Code is not a regulation and is not enforced by FDA. What it is, is FDA’s best science-based advice for a uniform system that addresses the safety and protection of food in retail and foodservice. Provided for food regulatory jurisdictions at all levels of government by adoption in whole or in part, it applies to retail, restaurants, QSR, vending, hospitals, nursing homes and other venues but not to manufacturing or food processing.

Local control. Within each state, legislatures and regulatory bodies can decide what parts of the Food Code they will adopt and enforce. It is up to retailers to ensure their SOPs are consistent with local existing regulations.  

Terminology. Priority items (previously called critical items) are provisions that contribute directly to the elimination, prevention or reduction of hazards associated with foodborne illness. Core items usually relate to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), facilities or structures, equipment design or general maintenance. In the latest code, some items changed from core to priority foundation, including availability of sanitizers, methods for thawing food and temperature of water for handwashing.

Changes since the last code. New provisions being rolled out include identification of sesame as the ninth major food allergen; standards for bulk food labeling; time as a public health control; manufacturer cooking instructions; testing chemical concentrations; and guidance on food donations, shellfish documentation and pet dogs in outdoor dining areas.

To view a recording of this complete webinar and find more information about food safety, visit the NGA-Ecolab food safety learning center.

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