Food Safety Focus Team • June 27
By now, you’ve probably heard about the new 2017 FDA Food Code and wondered why it matters and whether it would bring any changes to the way you conduct your foodservice operation.
 
The Food Code represents the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s best advice for a uniform system of provisions that address food safety and protection. It establishes sound requirements that help to prevent foodborne illness and injury and eliminate the most important food safety hazards in foodservice operations.
 
While the 2017 Food Code includes myriad changes and updates, Vito Palazzolo, MSPA, RS-REHS, CP-FS, Manager, Food Safety & Industry Relations for the National Restaurant Association, has identified three highlights that are extremely important for every foodservice operation to implement.
 
  1. Person in Charge. The person in charge (PIC) shall be a certified food protection manager who has shown proficiency of required information through passing a test that is part of an accredited program and be on-site at all times while the facility is in operation. Also, this person must be designated in writing as the PIC.
How is this a change?  Previously anyone on staff could be the PIC, and while they were so designated, they did not have to be on-site or certified. Now, the PIC has to be a certified food protection manager, and has to be on site. This requirement increases responsibility and accountability, which will drive food safety. It will also mean that foodservice establishments will need to have more certified food protection managers, so that every shift will have a certified manager on site at all times.
 
  1. Use of Bandages, Finger Cots, or Finger Stalls. If used, an impermeable cover such as a bandage, finger cot or finger stall located on the wrist, hand or finger of a food employee working with exposed food shall be covered with a single-use glove.
What’s new? This is a stricter requirement about wound protection. The code identifies a specific physical hazard (no one wants to find a bandage in their food) and stresses the need for extra protection.  This additional protection not only helps to reduce the chance of the physical hazard of a lost bandage, but also reduces the opportunity for biological hazards such as blood or pus from a wound getting into food by requiring two layers of protection.

Clean-up of Vomiting and Diarrheal Events.  A food establishment shall have written procedures for employees to follow when responding to vomiting or diarrheal events that involve the discharge of vomitus or fecal matter onto surfaces in the food establishment. The procedures shall address the specific actions employees must take to minimize the spread of contamination and the exposure of employees, consumers, food, and surfaces to vomitus or fecal matter. 

How does this differ from prior food code recommendations? In the past, there was no requirement for written standard operating procedures (SOPs) that addressed bodily fluid clean up. This change stresses that procedures need to be written, kept at your facility, and should include procedures for actions, documentation, and training. Again, it’s a matter of accountability and responsibility. Foodservice operations must put their SOPs in writing and ensure that all employees have been trained in these tasks.