An estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year in the U.S. The Snohomish Health
District Food Safety Program helps ensure the safety of the food you eat – whether it is purchased
at a grocery store, picked up at a restaurant, or from your favorite food booth at the fair.
Staff provides permits
and annual inspections to more than 3,000 retail
food establishments in Snohomish County, as well as 200 school kitchens and 1,070
temporary food booths
. Food establishments that do
require a special permit to ensure they can safely prepare and
transport food for large events.
We also review plans and conduct pre-inspections for new and remodeled food establishments.
For tips on food safety at home, visit the US Department of Agriculture’s “Be Food Safe”
If you believe you’ve become ill after eating
in Snohomish County, please contact our Communicable Disease staff: 425.339.5278
If you are concerned about unsanitary or unsafe practices or conditions in a food establishment, please complete this
. The Environmental
Health division follows up on complaints to ensure that businesses are safely following the Food Code
State Food Code changes
Washington is in the process of updating the state’s food service rule (WAC 246-215) to include provisions
from the 2009 FDA Model Food Code. Changes take effect May 1, 2013. Until then, the current rules apply.
In the outgoing rule, the Danger Zone is 41°-140°F.
The Danger Zone for hot holding of Potentially Hazardous Food will lower to 135°F – in other words, foods must
be kept above that temperature to be safe.
The current cold holding temperature of 41°F remains the same.
Potentially Hazardous Foods
The revised rule adds cut leafy greens and cut tomatoes to the list of hazardous foods.
Potentially Hazardous Foods, need to be kept hot or cold for safety. Such foods includes meat, poultry,
cooked starches, sliced melons, sprouts, fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures, dairy products, and cooked produce.
As potentially hazardous foods, cut leafy greens and cut tomatoes will now need to be kept out of the Danger Zone (41-135°F).
The term “leafy greens” includes iceberg, romaine, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf, scarole, endive, spring mix,
spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula and chard. “Cut leafy greens” means the leaves have been cut, shredded, sliced, chopped, or torn.
The term “leafy greens” does not include herbs such as cilantro or parsley. The term “cut” does not include removing
and discarding the exterior leaves.
The outgoing rule does not allow breaking four or more eggs into menu items, other than baked goods and batters,
that are served to multiple customers.
Eggs that are broken and mixed (such as for scrambled eggs) for multiple customers will be allowed to have four or more
eggs as long as the eggs are cooked immediately and cooked to an elevated internal temperature of 155°F (or marked with
a proper consumer advisory).
The outgoing rule requires proper washing of produce; new rule clarifies use of running water.
Fresh fruits and vegetables will need to be rinsed in running water before being cut, peeled, or otherwise prepared for
service. Sprouts and herbs are specified in the rule because current practice often does not include rinsing under water
prior to service.
Produce that is soaked or crisped in water will also need to be rinsed after soaking.
The current rule does not limit service animals to dogs.
In food establishments, a service animal means a dog (or miniature horse) that is individually trained to do work or
perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other
mental disability, as specified in RCW 49.60.218.
Other than bake sales or certain food to be donated, the current rule has no allowance for producing food for the
public in private home kitchens; the recent Cottage Food Law is incorporated into the new rule to allow small producers
to use their home kitchens.
Oven-baked goods such as cakes, cookies, breads, pastries, and most pies; cereals, trail mixes, granola, nut mixes,
jams, jellies, preserves, dry herbs, seasonings, and vinegars will be permitted and inspected by Washington State
Department of Agriculture for small-scale retailers to produce in their home kitchen.
The outgoing rule does not include information about conditional or new employees or potential health exposures
for workers in specific facilities.
In addition to restricting current employees with foodborne illnesses or symptoms from working with food, the person
in charge (PIC) must ensure that conditional (new) employees are also restricted until they are free of the foodborne
illness or symptoms.
Food employees who work in a facility that serves a HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE POPULATION (such as a nursing home or senior
center) must report to the manager or supervisor (PIC) if they:
- Are diagnosed with Norovirus or Salmonella;
- Consumed or prepared food implicated in a confirmed disease outbreak;
- Attended or worked in a setting with a confirmed disease outbreak;
- Live in the same household as someone who works at or attended a setting implicated in an outbreak; or
- Live in the same household or eaten food prepared by someone with E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella Typhi, hepatitis A, or jaundice.
The outgoing rule does not include provisions for serving or selling wild mushrooms.
Food establishments may serve or sell wild-harvested mushrooms as long as the mushrooms are from an approved list
of species, the mushrooms are provided with documentation signed by the mushroom identifier, the records are maintained for 90 days,
and the mushrooms are served cooked to 135°F or sold raw for home preparation, such as at farmers’ markets.
Note: This section does not apply to mushrooms grown, processed, or packaged by a licensed food processing plant.
The outgoing rule does not prohibit listing an undercooked hamburger or other menu item requiring a consumer
advisory on the children’s menu.
Meats and food containing meat that are listed within a children’s menu section will not be allowed to be served
Cook-Chill & Sous Vide
The revised rule adds requirements for cook-chill and sous vide.
Traditional cook-chill and sous vide preparations require sealing food in air-tight bags. This oxygen-reduced,
anaerobic environment can promote the growth of bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum (which can cause botulism) and
Listeria monocytogenes (which can cause listeriosis) that grow better when oxygen levels are low.
The proposed rule specifies the strict operating procedures and attention to precise temperature control and
discarding practices the operator must maintain in order to prepare these menu items under an approved “Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Points” (HACCP) plan.
The outgoing rule does not discuss animal products that are partially cooked and then cooled prior to final
cooking before service.
Food establishments that partially cook meat for final cooking later will be required to have written procedures,
pre-approved by the local health district. The rule requires that the meat be heated for no more than 60 minutes
initially and be properly cooled before it is finally cooked to 165°F before service.
Meats prepared using an interrupted cooking process, but do not meet the definition of grill marking (see below),
would be required to be cooked to at least 165°F before service. They would NOT be allowed to be served undercooked,
even with a consumer advisory.
Washington State included an exception to the Non-continuous Cooking section of the rule to allow limited
par-cooking under controlled circumstances.
Meats that are grill marked (seared for less than one minute per side) and held for finish cooking at a later time
must be cooled immediately, marked or otherwise indicated that they require additional cooking and stored separately
from ready-to-eat food.
Before service, grill marked meats must be heated to the proper internal cook temperature (unless a consumer advisory
is posted) before service. They may not be cooled again for another service.
The outgoing rule does not include modifications for food service in pre-schools with limited facilities.
With several exceptions (such as babysitting, licensed childcare, parent/child programs), pre-schools are defined
as programs that provide organized care and education for children below the age required for kindergarten entry and
that operate for two or more days per week with no child enrolled on a regular basis for more than four hours per day.
The proposed addition to the rule will limit food menus and preparation steps if the physical facilities available
at the pre-school are also limited.
Pre-schools that operate with expanded menus will be permitted as routine food establishments and required to comply
with the entire food rule.
Washington’s Revised Food Code
Washington State Department of Health
Food Safety Rules