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National Restaurant Association - What changes might be coming to the FDA Food Code?

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What changes might be coming to the FDA Food Code?

The National Restaurant Association is on the front lines fighting to make sure the FDA Food Code works for restaurants.

While it probably isn’t front-and-center in the minds of most restaurateurs, the FDA Food Code is what states, cities and counties rely on to develop their own regulations on food safety and sanitation in restaurants.  

The code isn’t law, but it provides guidance to states and localities to regulate areas like handwashing, safe food preparation, food storage and display, sanitation, cooking temperatures, freezing, and other essential elements of food safety.  The code touches nearly every aspect of a restaurant’s operations.  

The FDA issues a new Food Code every four years and publishes supplements every two years, but discussion and debate about changes to the code are constantly taking place among stakeholders from the foodservice industry, regulators, academia, and consumer groups.

The primary venue for recommendations is the Conference for Food Protection, which meets every two years to decide which changes to recommend to the FDA. The FDA doesn’t have to accept the CFP’s recommendations, but often does.

The NRA and its members were a strong presence at this spring’s conference, to ensure restaurants are heard as the CFP prepares to forward recommendations to the FDA.

So what issues might be addressed as the Food Code evolves? Here are two areas where the FDA may act:

  • National standards for food safety training: The NRA is advocating for future Food Codes to include more details on what employees should know about food safety and to develop guidelines for appropriate food safety training programs. The NRA is working with the CFP to make this recommendation to the FDA.
  • Health inspection visits: The NRA believes the Food Code should support more scheduled health inspections for foodservice establishments. Scheduled inspections, as opposed to surprise inspections, give restaurateurs and health inspectors more opportunities to work together to educate employees and prevent problems.  

The NRA took positions on a range of issues at this year’s conference. Listen to our members-only webinar to learn about what other changes may be in store for the FDA’s Food Code.

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