The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has unveiled a new plan for improving food safety practices at commercial establishments. 


The Retail Food Safety Action Plan, announced by the agency Friday, calls for several steps intended to strengthen state and local food safety requirements at grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other food vending facilities, as well as to improve the oversight of food facilities by public health agencies.


Specifically, the plan calls on these health departments to strengthen food safety requirements and ensure better training programs for personnel.  


To provide support, the FDA Friday also revealed a supplement to the 2009 FDA Food Code – a set of model food safety regulations used by state, local and tribal health authorities to keep their policies in line with current national recommendations. 


The supplement includes the following changes to the existing Food Code:


— A requirement that food establishments have a certified food protection manager on staff

— An expansion of the duties of the person in charge of a facility to include:

o Ensuring that all operating procedures required by the Food Code are developed and implemented

o Verifying that all employees have been informed of their obligation to report health conditions relating to transmission of foodborne illness

o Making sure any food received after operating hours is delivered in a manner that does not create a food safety hazard


– A requirement that food establishments have a plan for responding to and cleaning up after an employee or any individual who becomes sick in an area where food is prepared, stored or served

– Clarification of appropriate exceptions to the prohibition of bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods prepared on-site

– Clarification of requirements for storage of ground meat and poultry

– New requirements for chemical sanitizing devices

– Clearer guidelines for amount of time food establishment should have to correct Food Code violations

In order to help implement its new plan, the FDA is working with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). Together, the two agencies will develop ways to strengthen government surveillance of retail food establishments, and will work to implement the FDA’s Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards, which outlines a system of detection of and response to foodborne illness outbreaks.