The Food and Drug Administration announced the publication of the new FDA Food Code, a model code and reference document that provides a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating the retail and foodservice segment of the food industry. The 2009 FDA Food Code is a key component of President Obama’s overall public health–focused food safety framework for maintaining a safe food supply.
State, city, county, tribal, and territorial agencies regulate more than 1 million restaurants, retail food stores, and vending and foodservice operations in institutions such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and child care centers. The model FDA Food Code provides the basis for most of those agencies’ licensing, inspection, and enforcement activities, as well as serves as a model for their food statutes, regulations, and ordinances.
Release of the FDA Food Code provides all levels of government with practical, science-based guidance and manageable, enforceable provisions for mitigating known risks of foodborne illness. The FDA Food Code also serves as a reference document for the retail food industry.
“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,” says Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Food Code adoption and implementation in all jurisdictions are important for achieving uniform national food safety standards and for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our nation’s food safety system.”
The 2009 edition of the Food Code is the seventh full edition published by the FDA. The previous full edition was released in 2005 with a supplement published in 2007.
Significant enhancements to the 2009 FDA Food Code include: Each provision in the FDA Food Code is now designated as a “Priority Item,” a “Priority Foundation Item,” or a “Core Item,” to assist the industry and regulatory community in prioritizing their food safety interventions and their inspections; cut leafy greens are now included among the foods that require time and temperature control for safety and a new supporting reference document, “Recommendations to Food Establishments for Serving or Selling Cut Leafy Greens,” is summarized in Annex 2; 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; a new definition and criteria are added in a new FDA Food Code section for the non-continuous cooking of foods comprised of raw animal products to address the safety of this cooking method; and several requirements related to the effective cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and surfaces are enhanced or clarified.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture were consulted on changes in this latest edition of the FDA Food Code that affect their agencies. The introduction letter of the 2009 FDA Food Code is signed by FDA Commissioner Margret A. Hamburg, USDA-FSIS Administrator Alfred V. Almanza, and CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden.