Washington Food Rule

Washington Food Rule https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/shutterstock_125396864.jpg

Cook-Chill & Sous Vide (The revised rule adds requirements for cook-chill and sous vide.)

Traditional cook-chill and sous vide preparations require sealing food in air-tight bags. This oxygen-reduced, anaerobic environment can promote the growth of bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum (can cause botulism) and Listeria monocytogenes (can cause listeriosis) that grow better when oxygen levels are low.

The proposed rule specifies the strict operating procedures and attention to precise temperature control and discard practices the operator must maintain to prepare these menu items under an approved HACCP plan.


Noncontinuous Cooking (The outgoing rule does not discuss animal products that are partially cooked then cooled prior to final cooking before service.)

Food establishments that partially cook meat for final cooking later will be required to have written procedures pre-approved by the regulatory authority. The rule requires that the meat be heated for no more than 60 minutes initially and be properly cooled before it is finally cooked to 165°F before service. Meats prepared using an interrupted cooking process, but that do not meet the definition of grill marking (see below), would be required to be cooked to at least 165°F before service. They would NOT be allowed to be served undercooked, even with a consumer advisory.


Grill Marking (Washington State included an exception to the Noncontinuous Cooking section of the rule to allow limited parcooking under controlled circumstances.) Meats that are grill marked (seared for less than one minute per side) and held for finish cooking later must be cooled immediately, marked or otherwise indicated that they require additional cooking, and stored separate from ready-to-eat food. Before service, grill marked meats must be heated to the proper internal cook temperature (unless a consumer advisory is posted) before service. They may not be cooled again for another service.


Pre-School Licensing (The outgoing rule does not include modifications for food service in preschools with limited facilities.)

With several exceptions (such as babysitting, licensed childcare, parent/child programs), pre-schools are defined as programs that provide organized care and education for children below the age required for kindergarten entry and that operate for two or more days per week with no child enrolled on a regular basis for more than four hours per day.

The proposed addition to the rule will limit food menus and preparation steps if the physical facilities available at the pre-school are also limited. Pre-schools that operate with expanded menus will be permitted as routine food establishments and required to comply with the entire food rule.


Please note that changes are coming to the Washington Food Rule, in 2018, and will be noted in the HERO Manual when they are released.


Do you have questions? Food safety staff from your local health jurisdiction or Washington State Department of Health can answer questions or give you additional materials on the food rule.


For More Information:

Washington’s Revised Food Code: https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Food/FoodWorkerandIndustry/FoodSafetyRules

Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/

FDA Model Food Code Food and Drug Administration (2013): http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/retailfoodprotection/foodcode/ucm374275.htm


Rev. 12/19/17


This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Washington Hospitality Association here.

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Categories: HERO