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Health Depts. Shift F/S Rules

Health Dept. shift F/S rules

Foodservice operators in many parts of the country are finding that the ground rules governing sanitation standards are shifting as state and local health departments rethink their strategies for protecting the public from potentially hazardous foods and food preparation practices.

Instead of the standard "walk-through" to observe an establishment at a given point in time, "many health departments have been moving to newer inspection scoring systems that include the use of HACCP or a system that monitors the number of critical and non-critical violations," food safety researchers say in an article in the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management.

Being critical: The HACCP-based inspection process focuses on the flow of potentially hazardous foods and tracks these items from receiving until they are served to consumers. A different approach gaining popularity among local foodservice regulators categorizes violations as "critical" or "non-critical," giving repeated infractions a heavier emphasis, the researchers note.

Additionally, at least 17 states or local jurisdictions identified by the researchers now require food handlers or managers in hospitals, schools and other foodservice operations to secure certification in safe food handling techniques.

Food safety training and certification has been shown to improve sanitation inspection scores for foodservice establishments, yet researchers acknowledge that "implementation of regulations for mandatory certification of food handlers varies greatly from state to state."

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