FDA Updates Food Safety Guidelines

The Food Code is used as a reference by nearly 3,000 regulatory agencies that oversee food safety in restaurants, grocery stores, nursing homes, and other institutional and retail settings.

"This year's Food Code not only includes the best practices for the retail and food service industries but it also provides valuable resources on food defense that will assist in protecting Americans against threats to the food supply," said FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Director Robert Brackett.

In collaboration with the Conference for Food Protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the updated Food Code focuses on enhancing food safety practices based on new scientific and programmatic information. The most significant changes include:

  • A definition for major food allergen that is consistent with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. The person in charge of a food establishment must demonstrate knowledge about the major food allergens (milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.)
  • An amended definition of potentially hazardous food (also known as time/temperature control for safety (TCS) food) to reflect those that could allow pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation;
  • Added new controls and operations for reduced oxygen packaging; Summarized available resources on food defense and links to useful publications from the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Agriculture and industry groups;
  • Refocused date-marking provisions on foods that present a higher risk of contamination. Date marking is the practice of indicating the date or day by which a ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food should be consumed, sold, or discarded; and
  • Updated Employee Health provisions to include better ways to protect public health, based on new science on pathogens that are most likely to be transmitted from an infected food worker through food to consumers.

    Local, state, tribal and federal regulators voluntarily use the Food Code as a model to develop or update their own food safety rules and to maintain consistency and uniformity with national food regulatory policy. The Association of Food and Drug Officials reported in June that 48 of 56 states and territories have adopted food codes patterned after the Food Code. Those 48 states and territories represent 79% of the U.S. population.

    Copies of the 2005 Food Code are available at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fc05-toc.html.


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