The Kentucky Department for Public Health is working to make the general public and business community aware of new changes to the state’s food code which will improve safety and health standards for food storage, preparation and serving.
To prepare for upcoming changes, which will take effect in July, DPH conducted regional trainings for local health departments to educate food inspectors. Additionally, DPH has worked closely with businesses, organizations and associations, such as the Kentucky Restaurant Association, the Kentucky Retail Federation, Kentucky Association of Milk, Food and Environmental Sanitarians, and others to make sure industry officials and employees are prepared to implement changes.
“Educating the food industry and local health department staff about these upcoming changes has been a top priority for our public health food safety staff,” said Dr. Jeff Howard, DPH Commissioner. “We are extremely pleased these new regulations will take effect this summer, but know that public education and awareness are important as we continue our work to ensure the safety of the public’s food supply.”
The new code requires businesses and facilities employ at least one certified food protection manager. This individual will have supervisory responsibility and must obtain food protection manager certification. The new code also adds non-typhoidal salmonella to the existing list of reportable illnesses.
Other changes include updates to the definition of hazardous foods. The term “potentially hazardous food” was changed to “Time/Temperature Control for Safety Foods” or “TCS” to better reflect the nature of the food. In addition, cut melons and cut leafy greens have been added to the list of foods requiring TCS.
The state food code is a model for safeguarding public health and ensuring food is sanitary and honestly presented when offered to the consumer. It represents DPH’s guidelines for best practices in delivering a uniform system of provisions that address the safety and protection of food offered at retail and in food service. Kentucky’s amended code follows national standards designed by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“As environmental health professionals, our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of the citizens of Kentucky,” said Rebecca Gillis, director of the division of public health protection and safety. “An important piece of our work is making sure that industry leaders fully understand and can implement policies that adhere to our health and safety standards.”
The DPH Food Safety Branch provides training and information to industry and consumers and issues permits to establishments that meet minimum compliance standards. Local health departments are authorized to carry out the food safety program in the counties and districts they serve. Every county or district has a certified retail food specialist and all food inspectors are registered sanitarians.
Business owners are advised to familiarize themselves with the code to assure they will be in compliance.