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8 Ways the 2022 FDA Food Code Could Change Your Food Business's Day-to-Day Activities
Health inspector talking with grocery store manager

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued food safety guidelines for businesses since the year 1934. In 1993, it issued the first food code. The food code is a set of scientifically sound food safety guidelines that state and local governments can use as a model for how they regulate the food businesses in their communities. In other words: the food code is not federal law, and your local government may have additional, or different, regulations unique to your area.

FDA updates the food code regularly, about every 2-4 years. The 2022 edition is the most recent food code. Colorado, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania have already adopted the new food code as law, and other states will likely follow.

Key changes in the new food code

So, if the 2022 Food Code is adopted in your area, what kinds of changes will you be expected to make in the day-to-day activities of your business? Here are eight possibilities:

  1. Sesame is now considered a major food allergen! If you haven’t already, you’ll need to start including it when training your team on food allergies. (You should start doing this even if your local health department has not adopted the new food code.)
  2. Take steps to tell customers about major food allergens. These notifications must be in writing. For restaurants, this most likely means editing your menu to list all major food allergens used as ingredients. (If you fry foods in vegetable oil, don’t forget to also list soy for those items!) Grocery stores must add allergen information to bulk food items in customer self-service areas.
  3. You may donate unused food if it was stored, prepared, packaged, displayed, and labeled correctly.
  4. You may need to check that you’re cooking meat to proper temperatures. The 2022 food code includes an updated definition of “intact meat,” meant to clarify what types of meat may be cooked to 145°F (instead of 155°F).
  5. Pet dogs may be allowed in outdoor dining areas. Previously, only service animals were allowed into dining areas. But the 2022 food code includes a provision (§ 6-501.115(D)) that enables restaurants to allow pet dogs into outdoor areas, assuming your local health department approves. NOTE: Animals are still not allowed into non-public parts of food businesses, including the food preparation and food storage areas.
  6. Start saying “typhoid fever” instead of “Salmonella typhi” when teaching food workers about reportable diagnoses. Workers are more likely to remember the name of the disease than the bacterial strain that causes it.
  7. The hot water temperature requirement for hand sinks is now 85°F (29.4°C). (It used to be 100°F (38°C).)
  8. Finally, the new food code includes an important clarification about chemical bottles. Any container that used to store a chemical cannot be reused to store food NOR items that come into contact with food. That includes food preparation equipment, utensils, linens, and single-service/single-use articles.

If you have any questions, your best resource is your local health inspector! You can also read the 2022 FDA Food Code here:

— Jessica Pettit

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