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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Retailers, restaurants and foodservice institutions may be required to hire unit-level certified food protection managers if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) revised Model Food Code is adopted by state, county or city jurisdictions.
Last week, the FDA released a supplement to its Model Food Code, including several new or amended provisions offering a clearer delineation of the food safety responsibilities of a restaurant or retailer's "person in charge," and clearer guidelines for the amount of time a business should be given to correct violations of Food Code provisions, according to a report by Nation's Restaurant News.
The FDA's guidelines are not mandatory, but are used by many state or local jurisdictions to craft food safety standards, the report noted.
"The FDA is recommending that states and local jurisdictions incorporate into their retail food safety codes and ordinances a requirement that food establishments employ at least one certified food protection manager," said Stephen King, spokesman for the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Most, if not all, jurisdictions will have to take some action -- policy setting, rulemaking or legislation -- to make binding the revised provisions of the Food Code."
This supplement to the 2009 Food Code mandates that to fulfill the certified food protection manager requirement, an employee must be certified through an educational program that is evaluated and listed by a Conference for Food Protection-recognized accrediting agency.
At least 24 states already require restaurants to have certified food protection managers, National Restaurant Association representatives have said. In the other 26 states, some local jurisdictions have requirements for the employment of such specialized employees, or the state may require such a hire for a specific restaurant or chain that has had food safety problems.
The new Food Code supplement was announced by FDA officials as part of a new "Retail Food Safety Action Plan." That plan, they said, intends to improve how in-store managers conduct food safety operations and improve the oversight of restaurants, institutions and retail establishments by public health agencies at the federal, state and local levels.
The supplement calls for a restaurant's "person in charge" to ensure:
- That all operating procedures required by the Food Code are developed and implemented.
- That it can be verified that all employees are informed about their obligation to report certain health conditions that relate to transmission of foodborne illness.
- That any food the establishment receives after operating hours, or through a so-called "key drop," is delivered in a manner that does not create a food safety hazard.