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VOL. 40 | NO. 29 | Friday, July 15, 2016

Tennessee’s key food code changes

By Hollie Deese

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In 2013, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Retail Food Safety Act, the first significant change in how the state regulates and inspects retail food establishments including grocery stores and restaurants in nearly 30 years. Food operators were given two years to implement the code.

Key elements of that code include:

No bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods

The proper use of tongs, scoops, deli paper and single service gloves are required to handle food that will not be cooked, or cooked again, prior to serving. A variance from no bare hand contact may be granted under certain circumstances to establishments that do not serve highly susceptible populations.

New holding temperatures

Cold foods must be held at a temperature of 41 degrees F or below. Hot foods must be held at a temperature of 135 degrees F or above.

Date marking ready-to-eat foods

Foods are required to be date marked once prepared or opened if held for more than 24 hours. The date marked food must be used, sold or discarded within 7 days when held at 41° F or below.

Knowledgeable person in charge

A person in charge must be designated during all hours of food service operation and must be able to demonstrate knowledge of food safety and knowledge of foodborne disease prevention. Knowledge can be demonstrated through certification in food protection, having no priority or priority foundation violations in the establishment or by correctly answering food safety questions posed by an inspector.

Employee health policy

Management must have a policy in place for employee health that requires employees to report certain symptoms and diagnoses to the person in charge. Management must exclude or restrict ill employees based on their symptoms or diagnosis.

Risk-based inspections increase

Retail food establishments in Tennessee were previously inspected twice annually. Based on the Food Code concept of risk-based inspections, food establishments will now be inspected one to four times annually. Low-risk establishments will be inspected only once or twice a year while high-risk establishments will be inspected more.

SOURCE: Metro Public Health Department

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