New Jersey has enacted foodservice rules that stipulate that employees who come into contact with food must wash their hands first.
"Consumers will enjoy better protection because these rules reflect better scientific understanding of how to prevent food-borne illnesses," state Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs was quoted as saying by a variety of news media today.
The new rules, which went into effect this week, govern foodservice at 50,000 food stores, restaurants, banquet facilities, caterers, distributors, and other establishments. State health officials were quick to point out that they were not prompted by the recent E.coli infections suffered by 33 state residents who ate at Taco Bell restaurants.
The regulations require more detailed and specific hand-washing requirements for food workers, including specific instructions on how, how long and when to wash and how to dry hands properly. For example, workers washing their hands will have to rub them together vigorously for at least 10 seconds, paying particular attention to areas underneath fingernails.
Bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods has been banned, with foodservice workers required to use gloves, utensils or deli tissue to handle such foods.
Other rules require people in charge of higher-risk foodservice establishments that handle raw ingredients and prepare food that needs temperature control to pass a nationally accredited food safety examination by Jan. 2, 2010, and set limits on cold and hot food temperatures.
The new regulations can be viewed at this URL: http://nj.gov/health/eoh/documents/chapter24_effective_1207.pdf.