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New State Food Safety Rules for Food Establishments Enhance Public Health Protection

New state food safety rules designed to improve public health protection will go into effect on Sept. 2. The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has amended Chapter 50, Food Safety Code, after completing public hearings on Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui and Oahu in December 2016 and March 2017. The amended rules will affect all food establishments statewide with new requirements for the industry.

One of the major rule changes is a new mandate for Food Handlers Education certification for persons-in-charge at all food establishments. This will ensure a minimum baseline of food safety knowledge for all facility owners and managers. Studies have shown that food establishments with properly trained persons-in-charge have a lower occurrence of critical food safety violations that are directly linked to food illnesses.

The new rule requires that at least one employee present at every food establishment during normal work hours (including during food preparation) must have a formal food handlers training level certification. DOH will accept certification recognized by the American National Standards Institute. Training is available online from various vendors with fees averaging $10-$15 for certification. Proof of certification will be required during health inspections after Sept. 2, 2018. DOH will allow the industry one year to comply with this new provision.

Other changes to the state’s Food Safety Rules include:

  • Health inspectors may post placards during all types of inspection, including those for general complaints, and may post a “CLOSED” red placard at food establishments operating without a valid permit.
  • DOH may refuse permit renewals for food establishments with unpaid fines or stipulated agreements more than 30 days overdue.
  • DOH approval will be required prior to the sale of all “Wild Harvested Mushrooms.”
  • Permit exemptions will be allowed for residential child and adult day care providers, and bed and breakfast operators when certain conditions are adhered to. While exempt from permit requirements, these establishments may be subject to state health inspections.
  • Exemptions will also be allowed for the sale of “Homemade Foods” foods that are not potentially hazardous (e.g. certain pre-packaged foods). While exempt from permit requirements, these establishments may also be subject to state health inspections.
  • Special Event Temporary Food Establishment permits will be restricted to 31 days at a time. Consecutive permits may be allowed. Permit fees will remain at $100 for a 20-day permit with an additional $5 fee for each day over 20 days.
  • The section of the rules for Mobile Food Establishments has been removed and these regulations will be incorporated into the general regulations for all food establishments. All Mobile Food Establishments are required to access a state approved facility to support their food operations safely.
  • Full adoption of the 2013 FDA Model Food Code to include regulations governing reduced oxygen packaging. This will provide Hawaii with the most current nationally recognized food safety practices based on the most recent scientific studies conducted on food safety.

The DOH Sanitation Branch protects and promotes the health of Hawaii residents and visitors through education of food industry workers and regulation of food establishments statewide. The branch conducts health inspections of food establishments where food products are prepared, manufactured, distributed, or sold. The branch also investigates the sources of food borne illnesses, and works to control and prevent foodborne outbreaks. Health inspectors work with business owners, food service workers, and the food industry to ensure safe food preparation and conditions.

For more information on the department’s food safety program go to http://health.hawaii.gov/san/.

State Department of Health to Hold Public Hearings for New Food Safety Rules

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) will hold public hearings in all counties between Dec. 2 and 6, 2013, to introduce new food safety regulations that will affect all restaurants and food establishments in the state. The last substantial change to these rules was made nearly 17 years ago in 1996.

Department of Health

Highlights of the new food safety rules include: adoption of the 2009 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Model Food Code as the basis for the rules; introduction of a highly visible restaurant grading system that will require food establishments to post the results of their last state inspection; move to annual permitting from biennial permitting; and permit fee increases.

“Adoption of the FDA Model Food Code will provide Hawaii with nationally recognized standards based on the most current scientific findings on food safety,” said Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch chief. “We look forward to enhancing our current state food regulations with these new and improved rules.”

The new grading system will consist of “PASS” (green), “CONDITIONAL PASS” (yellow), and “CLOSED” (red) placards. A “PASS” green placard will be given to food facilities that have one major violation or less that is corrected prior to completion of the inspection. A “CONDITIONAL PASS” yellow placard will be issued to a facility with two or more major violations during an inspection regardless of whether the violations are corrected on site. Major violations require a follow-up inspection. Follow-up inspections are conducted the next working day after notification from the facility that all major violations have been corrected. A “CLOSED” red placard will be issued if there are imminent health hazards that warrant immediate closure of the facility (lack of water, lack of electricity, sewage overflows in food preparation areas, sick employees, vermin infestation, etc.).

Major health inspection violations at food establishments are conditions that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA recognize as the main causes of food illnesses (lack of hand washing, poor temperature controls, and contamination by raw/uncooked foods, etc.)

It is anticipated that the fee increases outlined in the new food safety rules will fund 13 additional full-time inspector positions granted by the state Legislature to be filled in fiscal years 2012-2015. The additional staffing will support an expanded inspection schedule that will include a minimum of three on-site inspections each year for high-risk establishments, two on-site inspections each year for medium risk establishments, and annual visits for all other establishments to meet national program standards and reduce foodborne illness.

“The new food safety rules will mean a huge step forward for our program and will result in overall improvements by expanding food safety testing, pesticide monitoring of local produce, and shellfish monitoring, among many other activities that protect public health every day,” added Oshiro.

To view Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 11- 50, titled, “Food Safety Code,” go to http://health.hawaii.gov/san/. Public hearings will be held at the following dates and locations:

Hawaii (Hilo): Monday, Dec. 2, at 1 p.m.

Environmental Health Facility conference room (1582 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo)

Hawaii (Kona): Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m.

West Hawaii Civic Center – Liquor Control conference room, 2nd Floor, Bldg. B

(74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Kailua-Kona)

Oahu: Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 1 p.m.

Environmental Management Division conference room, 5th Floor (919 Ala Moana Blvd.,

Honolulu)

Maui: Thursday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m.

UH- Maui College Community Services Building (310 Kaahumanu Ave., Bldg. #205, Kahului)

Kauai: Friday, Dec. 6, at 1 p.m.

Lihue Health Center conference room (3040 Umi St., Lihue)