New Food Code - Effective November 1, 2011
After many months of meetings between the Food Service Advisory Council, on which the ORA is represented, and the State Health Department, the latest revisions to the Oklahoma Food Code have been approved by the Legislature and went into effect yesterday, November 1st
On September 12-13, all Health Inspectors met in Oklahoma City to go over the new Food Code and received training on the changes and also received training on how to work closely with restaurant managers to help ease the transition to the new rules. Although enforcement of the changes began on November 1st
, ORA has been told that inspectors will not be citing restaurants for violations of the new changes until everyone has had an opportunity to be told of the changes and how to comply, even for those restaurants not inspected prior to November 1st. The new Chapter 257 of the Food Code is now online at the Health Department website and can be downloaded here
Many of the changes are not significant, but we wanted to make you aware of several that you will be hearing about when your inspector makes his/her next visit. You may want to consider having your manager in charge call you if you are not already present when the inspector arrives, with the thought you could be there and work “hand in hand” with the inspector to make any necessary decisions or changes.
Templates/guidelines that will help you comply with the new Food Code will be provided to you by your inspector. With the exception of information that is required if you chose Bare Hand Contact with Ready to Eat Foods, the templates are not mandatory.
They can, however, be a good guideline to help you comply with the changes to the Code.
- Bare Hand Contact with ready to eat foods will still be allowed under the new changes, according to this template. You will continue to have a choice of wearing gloves, using utensils, or having bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. Gloves will not be required. But you will need to have a written employee health policy and will need to provide documentation that your employees have been trained in proper hand-washing and other procedures before handling ready to eat food.
- Managers - Information on Food Allergies and which foods on your menu are most likely to cause allergic reactions for your customers will be an increased focus under the new Food Code. The inspectors will have materials that will help you identify the most common foods that cause allergies and how to train your employees in this information.
- Employee/New Hire Information - Information about what and when your employees/potential hires should tell you about their illnesses and symptoms of illnesses will be shared with you. You can download the template here. Again, your inspector will have templates that will help you and your employees know, in layman’s terms, when to report to you they are sick and when you should restrict them from working.
- Inspection Reports – These have changed significantly. No longer will the terms Critical Violations be used. Rather, Priority, Priority Foundation, and Core Violations will be used. Your inspector will go over the new form with you and answer your questions about the changes.
- Your Inspector - He or she will talk to you about several policies and procedures you should have in place on hand washing, employee illness reporting, and other requirements of the Code. Although there will not be a requirement for having these written procedures in place, having them may assist you in being in compliance with the Code.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) – A template is available from the Health Department that can be used to provide information to the Department on how you operate. This information will be required only when remodeling, a change of ownership, and for new restaurants.
- Templates/Guidelines - These new templates/guidelines will help you comply with the new Food Code. Your inspector will provide them to you. Although the templates are not mandatory, they can be a good guideline to help you comply with the changes to the Code.
As always, if you have questions or need additional information, please call Jim Hopper at the ORA office, (800) 375-8181 or (405) 942-8181.