Quick Bites: Changes to Washington food code

Quick Bites: Changes to Washington food code https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Untitled-design.png

Quick Bites: Series Overview

The Washington Hospitality Association presents Quick Bites – a video series that will help prepare members for upcoming changes to Washington State’s food code in 2022. The series features Susan Shelton, a public health advisor with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). In part one of our series, Susan gives an overview of some of the changes taking effect March 1, 2022. In future Quick Bites videos, we will take an in depth look at each of the changes.

Approximately every eight years, Washington updates the state food code based on the up-to-date U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Model Food Code. Local, state, tribal and federal regulators all use the FDA food code as a model to develop or update their own rules and remain consistent with national food policy. The changes also reflect the stakeholder process that ensures policies are practical for individuals and businesses across sectors.

These are the most important health code changes impacting hospitality businesses in 2022:

  • Management and personnel changes – There will be changes to the duties outlined for a person in charge or shift manager. The certified food protection manager requirement will be updated.
  • Potentially Hazardous Foods – This familiar term will be updated to “Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods”.
  • There are new reporting requirements around employee health and new guidelines on bare hand contact.
  • There are new standards for date marking foods.
  • There are changes to the code in regard to cooking ground meat and poultry products.
  • There are changes to the rules on fish, shellfish and produce washing.
  • Operational changes include the requirement of written plans on vomit and diarrheal cleanup;
  • The rules surrounding pets on premises, including comfort animals;
  • And code updates related to washing and sanitizing utensils. Rules on refilling customer-owned containers will also change.
  • Some establishments were also removed from the code. One change excludes certain types of beverage businesses that meet a very specific definition from some rules. For example, lemonade stands and small bed and breakfasts that are not operated year-round are excluded.

Stay tuned as we break down each one of these changes to Washington’s food code in our video series with the Washington State Department of Health available here. You can look over the changes on the DOH website here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/4400/FoodCodeRuleRevision-Top10Changes.pdf

Quick Bites: Employee Health

Food workers are the heart of foodservice, but sick food workers can also pose the greatest threat to food safety. Here are some of the best ways to stay safe:

Make sure your managers and persons in charge…

  • Are trained to watch for the key symptoms and illnesses that can pose a threat.
  • Know what to do if there is a potential for foodborne illness.
  • Ensure that workers practice good hygiene at all times – even if they are feeling healthy.

Symptoms and illnesses to watch for

Each employee must be informed that they are required to report specific information about personal health conditions that can be spread through food to the person in charge including:

  • The date the employee first had symptoms.
  • Whether the employee had a medical diagnosis and what it was.
  • If they were potentially exposed to a foodborne illness

Ill food workers

There are two levels of action that are required for ill food workers.

Restriction is when workers are kept away from clean equipment and are not allowed to handle unpackaged food or items like clean utensils. They can still do other tasks like sweeping. Some symptoms that require restriction include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • An inflamed cut.

Exclusion is the more serious level that requires workers to be excluded from the food establishment. This is required if they have specific symptoms or a diagnosed illness. The symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomit
  • Jaundice

And the diagnosed illnesses that would require a worker to be excluded are:

  • Shigella
  • E coli
  • Hepatitis A
  • Salmonella
  • Norovirus

If any of the diagnosed illnesses above, or if a worker shows signs of jaundice, is reported to the person in charge, they must also report this to the health department.

Food worker hygiene

There have been some changes to the food code surrounding food worker hygiene.

  • Jewelry with medical information is not allowed on your arm or hand – jewelry like bracelets were already not allowed, but they now specify that this includes a medical bracelet.
  • Single-use gloves are now required to cover bandages on workers’ wrist, hand or finger.
  • Front of house staff are now allowed to restrain their hair without a hairnet.

Quick Bites: Date Marking

The practice of date marking foods is designed to prevent Listeria — an illness from bacteria that can grow in refrigerated foods over time. Date marking encourages a “first in, first out” practice designed to rotate stock as quickly as possible and should be a back-of-house practice – not something that is customer-facing.

New changes around date marking foods are coming to the state food code starting March 1, 2022. Date marking only applies to:

  • Cold, refrigerated food
  • Ready-to-eat food
  • Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) food
  • Food prepared inside the food establishment or opened packaged food
  • Food that you store for more than 24 hours

Foods that meet those criteria require date marking. If they do not meet one or more of those criteria, they do not need to be date marked.

Date marking systems
You do not have to subscribe to a specific date marking system. You can use a variety of methods such as color-coded stickers, written stickers, or calendars – whatever works best for your business. However, whatever system you use, you must train your team so that everyone is on the same page. And the system must be explainable to a health inspector. While not a requirement of the food code, a good best practice would be to have your date marking system in writing so that the system can be clearly explained to your team members and health inspectors.

Day One starts as foods are prepared or opened from their packaging. From there, the foods must be used within seven days before discarding them. Freezing foods will allow you to pause the calendar, but it doesn’t restart the clock.


  • Some foods are exempt from date marking requirements, including:
  • Deli salads prepared & packaged in a food processing plant
  • USDA-regulated, shelf-stable fermented sausages & salt-cured meats
  • Shellstock
  • Hard and semi-soft cheeses
  • Cultured dairy products
  • Preserved fish products
  • Reduced oxygen packaging food

Quick Bites: Certified Food Protection Manager

The Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) has been a requirement in the federal food code for several years. It is now going to be a requirement in the Washington food code for the first time.

However, unlike other elements of the food code changes taking effect in March this year, food establishments have until March 1, 2023 to comply with the new certified food protection manager requirement.

A few key points for the state requirement that differ from the federal requirement:

  • Washington will require one employee per establishment. The CFPM can be the business owner, a manager or a contractor.
  • The CFPM does not need to be on the premises at all times.
  • The CFPM will be responsible for creating written plans and training the Person in Charge.
  • While the CFPM does not need to be on the premises, the certification does need to be on the premises at all times.
  • You will have 60 days to find a replacement when your CFPM leaves your business.


Certified Food Protection Managers must be certified through an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited program. Washington Hospitality Association members can sign up for training and certification through our partnership with the National Restaurant Association and ServSafe. Training Manager Kelsi Mayther (kelsim@wahospitality.org) can provide you with additional information.

Certifications expire and must be renewed after five years.


Quick Bites: Cleaning & Sanitizing

There are four changes to the state food code going into effect March 1, 2022, related to cleaning and sanitizing processes in your food establishment. There’s a good chance you are following these processes already, but the Department of Health received feedback that there was some confusion in the code on these topics, so the updated food code provides additional clarity.

Monitoring food temperature

Food establishments are required to have temperature measuring devices to ensure food is cooked to proper temperatures. However, the new update clarifies the requirement to have small-diameter probes to measure thin foods such as hamburger patties and fish filets. The key here is to make sure the measuring device is where the temperature can be measured with the tip of the probe.

Dishwashing test strips

Making sure water is getting hot enough for high-temperature washers is key to ensuring dishes and utensils are sanitized properly. The code now requires you to have test strips that measure chemical levels inside the dishwasher or testing strips to make sure the water is getting hot enough.

The code does not require you to test your equipment at specific intervals. However, this is an item that will be checked during every health inspection. A good best practice is to use the test strips regularly to ensure your dishwashing equipment is working properly.

Soap and sanitizer

Some operators may have an established process where equipment sanitizing happens at a set time, like at the end of the day. A new change in the food code will require your team to have access to equipment sanitizing stations as they do food prep throughout the day.

Hard close-grained woods

The list of allowable uses of hard, close-grained wood products is being expanded to include serving boards. You may have maple boards or other hard, close-grained wood products that you use as cutting boards, for example. Those boards may now also be used as serving boards so long as those boards can be properly washed, rinsed and sanitized before they are reused.




Tags: 2022, Hot topic