Adopt Food code

Oregon to Adopt 2009 FDA Food Code

Now is the Time to Comment on Rules.

Regulators with the Foodborne Illness Prevention Program are currently in the process of reviewing and updating Oregon’s statewide food safety standards. Currently in Oregon, standards are based upon the 1999 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code; the update plan is for our state to adopt the 2009 FDA Food Code. It is expected that the new rules will be in effect on July 1, 2012.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has established a web page for updates and additional information about proposed changes to the food code. Operators can go online to OregonRLA.org/FoodCode and check on status updates, code specifics, and information regarding the changes and how they will affect foodservice establishments, local health departments and the dining public. Hearings and the public comment period will take place in April 2012, with schedule postings available on OHA’s website. Operators are encouraged to comment on the rules. Here are just a few of the major changes involved in the new code:

NO BARE HAND CONTACT
Food employees may not contact exposed ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and shall use suitable utensils such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, forks, single-use non-latex gloves, or dispensing equipment. This is a major change for independent foodservice operations. Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) opposed this change during the food code revision process. However, many of the national chain restaurants already require gloves, so they supported the change in rule. The OHA is looking into a possible exemption for bartenders that use certain foods to garnish drinks.

OUTER OPENINGS AND OPEN AIR DINING
The 2009 food code recommended against outer openings, but the OHA decided not to include that section in Oregon’s food code. Foodservice establishments may provide open air dining via unprotected outer openings if the facility has an integrated pest control plan that has been approved by the local health authority and insects and rodents are not present in the facility.

DOGS AND SERVICE ANIMALS
As many operators know, it is against the law to prevent service animals in their establishments. As for non-service pet animals, the rules will allow dogs in a designated outside seating area of an establishment, if offered by the operator. Dogs will not be permitted to travel through indoor or non-designated outdoor portions of the establishment. Additionally, employees cannot feed or handle the animal, and procedures will need to be in place to deal with accidents involving dog waste. As a side note, there is a work group at the state legislative level discussing a ban on non-service animals of all kinds in establishments that serve food including grocery stores and restaurants. This proposal will be presented to the 2013 Legislature for consideration.

CONSUMER ADVISORIES
A consumer advisory will be required for facilities that serve raw or undercooked animal products to consumers. This advisory will consist of a disclosure, which indicates which products are served raw or undercooked, and a reminder which states that consuming raw animal products increases the risk of foodborne illness.

These are just a few of the major changes to the food code. For more information and updates on hearings around the state, or how to comment on the rules, visit OHA’s website. Once again, ORLA encourages you to please comment on the rules mentioned in this article, if you have concerns. The rules will be in place during the second round of inspections this calendar year. Although not for certain, it is likely that violations will receive warnings this year, and come with point reductions beginning in 2013. | BILL PERRY