The Food Code — published by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — provides guidelines for best food safety practices.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues a new edition of the Food Code every four years.
The FDA issued the 2022 edition of the Food Code on December 28, 2022, replacing the 2017 edition.
This article summarizes the changes made to the 2022 FDA Food Code from the 2017 edition to keep you current on best food safety practices.
What is the Food Code?
The FDA’s Food Code provides guidelines and recommendations for best food safety practices for food offered at retail establishments or in foodservice.
It’s not a regulation and cannot be legally enforced, but local, state, and federal lawmakers adopt the Food Code into their own regulations, which then become mandatory.
The FDA publishes a new edition of the Food Code every four years based on the best current food safety science and provides supplemental updates every two years as necessary (1).
However, some local, state, and federal lawmakers have adopted older versions of the Food Code and have not updated their regulations to the most current edition.
The FDA issued the most recent Food Code — the 10th edition — in 2022, replacing the previous 2017 version.
The FDA Food Code provides guidelines and recommendations for best food safety practices for food offered outside of the home. The FDA issues a new edition of the Food Code every four years, the most recent being in 2022.
Summary of changes in the 2022 FDA Food Code
The FDA released the 10th — and most recent — edition of the Food Code in 2022, replacing the 2017 edition.
While hundreds of changes are reflected in 2022 edition, there are five key changes from the 2017 edition to know (2).
The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act of 2021 (FASTER Act) declared sesame as the ninth major food allergen.
FDA updated the Food Code to reflect this addition.
The remaining eight major food allergens include:
- fish, such as bass and cod
- shellfish, such as crab, lobster, and shrimp
- tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and walnuts
2. Unpackaged and bulk food labeling
Foodservice operations must provide consumers with written communication of major food allergens as ingredients in unpackaged and self-dispensing bulk foods.
This rule doesn’t apply if the major food allergen is already part of the common name, for example, soymilk.
Bulk, unpackaged foods like bakery products also don’t need to notify consumers of a major food allergen if:
- a health, nutrient content, or other claim is not made
- there are no state or laws requiring labeling, and
- the food is made or prepared on the premises of the establishment or an approved processing plant that is owned by the same operator
3. Food donations
Food stored, prepared, packaged, displayed, and labeled properly can be donated.
This is to encourage operations to donate food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations like homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and churches to people who are food insecure.
This rule is to also reduce food waste, which is estimated to constitute 30% to 40% of the United States food supply.
4. Intact meats
The definition of intact meats was clarified to mean whole muscle meat that has not undergone grinding, crushing, shredding, mechanical tenderization, reconstruction, marination, injection, cubing, or pounding.
The definition of intact meat was revised to clarify time-temperature cooking requirements for intact vs non-intact meats.
Unlike intact meats, non-intact meats have undergone some type of processing like grinding, tenderization, marination, or cubing.
Non-intact meats have a greater risk for food hazard contamination and therefore require a higher internal cooking temperature.
The minimum internal cooking temperature for intact meats is 145ºF (63ºC) for 15 seconds, and 155ºF (68ºC) for 17 seconds for non-intact meats.
Animals can carry pathogens and contaminate food and food-contact surfaces through indirect contact with a food handler’s hands and clothing.
Animals can also come in direct contact with food and food-contact surfaces.
For this reason, animals are only allowed on the premises of foodservice operations in certain instances.
The Food Code now allows pet dogs in outdoor dining areas, where approved.
These are the key significant changes made to the 2022 Food Code from the previous 2017 edition.
The bottom line
The FDA’s Food Code provides food safety guidelines for restaurants, grocery stores, and healthcare facilities like nursing homes.
The 2022 FDA Food Code is the most recent edition, replacing the 2017 edition.
Although there were hundreds of updates, familiarizing yourself with the five key changes will allow you to stay current on the best food safety practices.
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