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The Washington State Food Code changes begin in March 2022. The Snohomish Health District now has a new Food Code Updates webpage dedicated to the upcoming changes. This is a great place to find new guidance and resources that have been created to help meet the new requirements. This newsletter will focus on some of the main changes to be aware of. We will start with three code changes that every food establishment should start working on now.
Establishments must have written procedures for employees to follow when responding to events that involve the discharge of vomit or fecal matter onto surfaces in the food establishment. The procedures must include specific actions employees must take to clean and sanitize the area to:
• Minimize vomit and fecal matter exposure to employees and customers.
• Minimize the contamination of food and surfaces.
The Washington State Department of Health has more information to help establishments with their written clean up procedures.
The information below must be provided to each food worker in a way that can be verified. The Person in Charge must be able to prove that every food worker has received this information.
Food workers must inform the Person in Charge if they have:
Diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, jaundice, a lesion on hand or wrist containing pus or an infected wound on hand or wrist that is open and draining.
Food workers must inform the Person in Charge if they are diagnosed with:
Norovirus, Hepatitis A virus, Shigella, Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, Salmonella Typhi (typhoid fever), Salmonella (non-typhoidal).
Some examples of verifiable methods:
• Keeping a signed statement for each employee stating they have been made aware of this requirement.
• Clearly posting the information in the employees work area or break room, with a sign-up sheet that employees sign once they have gone through it.
• Creating a curriculum and keeping a roster of the employees that attend or go through that training.
The Snohomish Health District has created handouts to help you meet this requirement in a verifiable way. Check for them on our website and see if they could be used in your establishment.
There are some specific foods that will need to be marked and used within 7 days. Those foods are refrigerated, ready-to-eat, perishable foods that are prepared in-house or in opened packages. This applies only to foods that will be held in the establishment for more than 24 hours. Written labels on food containers, day dots, or other systematic procedures that effectively track the expiration of foods are acceptable. The day of preparation counts as day one. If you combine any ingredients that are date marked, you must continue to use the earliest date for the new product.
If a food item has been cooled on-site and will be held in the establishment for more than 24 hours, date marking will be required, starting with the first day of cooling. More examples of food items and date marking requirements can be found in the table on the Food Code Updates page.