Revised food code aims to tackle foodborne illness

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

US Food Code and Mexico partnership
US Food Code and Mexico partnership

Related tags Food safety Food safety modernization Foodborne illness

Revisions to minimum cooking temperatures and stronger cleaning and sanitising requirements have been added to the US 2013 Food Code.

The annual cost of foodborne illness in terms of pain and suffering, reduced productivity, and medical costs are estimated to be $10-$83bn.

Benefits from the code​, which is intended to be a reference document for the food sector, include reduction of the risk of foodborne illnesses in food establishments, protecting consumers industry from health consequences and financial losses.

It is based on input of gathered during the Conference for Food Protection (CFP) meeting last year and is an update of the 2009 version.

Major recommendations

Nontyphoidal Salmonella is added to illnesses that food workers must report to their management, which prompts them to exclude or restrict employees from working with food.

Revisions to the minimum cooking temperatures associated with procedures such as non-continuous cooking and circumstances under which bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods is permitted.

Stronger requirements for cleaning and sanitizing equipment used in preparing raw foods that are major food allergens.

Requirements to address emerging trends in food factories such as the use of reduced oxygen packaging methods and the reuse and refilling of take-home food containers.

The FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA-FSIS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put together the code.

FDA Mexico partnership

FDA also said it was partnering with Mexico, one of the US’ top trading partners, to keep food such as fruits and vegetables safe.

It is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) plan to strengthen partnerships with China, Canada, Mexico and Europe for maximum food safety.

Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner, said food safety is an issue that crosses borders in a blog for the FDA​.  

“For example, our counterparts in Mexico have a great deal of data to share based on microbiological sampling of foods and inspections. And, like us, they base their food-safety priorities on risk: What are the greatest potential hazards?

“We know food safety is more a journey than a destination, and the road we are on with Mexico will have its bumps and seem long at times. But, thankfully, we are on the road together, and we will get there.”

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