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.