Frequently Asked Questions

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Quick Bites: Frequently Asked Questions

Do these updates to the state food code apply to brewery taprooms not serving/preparing food?

If you hold a food service permit from the local health department, the food code applies to you.

Even if you don’t prepare meals, you must make sure your staff know about employee health, your managers/person in charge have the food safety knowledge specific to your operation, you have a vomiting/diarrhea clean up plan and you notify customers your inspection report is available.

The food code also applies to establishments with limited menus if you want to have pet dogs at your establishment, allow customers to refill their own containers, stay open during short-term power/water outages, or want to hold TCS-prepared foods (such as catered dishes or deli trays with meat, cheese or cut melons) for more than 24 hours.

The Bare Hand Contact allowances/requirements apply to drinking establishments that handle produce (such as lemon or mint garnishes) or ice.

The Certified Food Protection Manager requirement scheduled for March 2023 will likely not be required for establishments that only serve foods that do not have temperature requirements (final list of exemptions will be available later this year).

When will the additional guidance materials from DOH be made available?

The DOH is finalizing those materials now. We will post links to those materials on our Quick Bites page and include them in our weekly newsletter. The DOH will also post those documents on their Food Code Rule Revision page and notify food establishment operators via their email distribution list, which you can sign up for here.

Who do I need to contact to get included in the weekly newsletter?

Send us an email at news@wahosptiality.org and we’ll add you to our newsletter distribution list. Be sure to add that address to your “safe senders” list to reduce the chances of our messages ending up in your spam filter.

What are the exemptions for bed & breakfast establishments?

The updated food code removes owner-occupied bed & breakfast operations with 1-2 bedrooms that only serve breakfast and notify the consumer they are not regulated by the health department. Bed & breakfasts that fall outside of this definition will continue to be considered food establishments.

Watch our Quick Bites Series Overview for more details on this topic.

What actions do I need to take if one of my team members informs us that they have fallen ill? What are the reporting requirements?

Workers who are coughing, sneezing, experiencing a sore throat, or have an inflamed cut that can’t be covered with a bandage (and glove if it’s on the hand) must be limited to restricted duties like sweeping. They cannot handle clean equipment or unpackaged foods.

Workers with symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, or jaundice must be excluded from the food establishment. Workers must also be excluded from the food establishment if they have a diagnosed illness for:

  • Shigella
  • coli
  • Hepatitis A
  • Salmonella
  • Norovirus

Workers with any of the above symptoms or illnesses must report to the Person in Charge.

The Person in Charge must report any food worker with the five diagnosed illnesses or a worker with jaundice to the local health department. The Person in Charge must also report foodborne illness complaints to the local health department.

Watch our Quick Bites on Employee Health for more details on this topic.

We use an open date for our date marking practice. Do we also have to put discard date?

No. You only need to use one date. The key is to make sure employees clearly understand your date marking/calendar system so it can be routinely followed and accurately described during an inspection.

Watch our Quick Bites on Date Marking for more details on this topic.

Does it matter if we are a closed kitchen for the pet dogs in the dining room?

No. This new provision passed by the Legislature is for establishments that do not need a food permit. Most commonly, these would be businesses like tap rooms that serve limited food, like packaged chips or pretzels.

Watch our Quick Bites on Pet Dogs for more details on this topic.

How does compliance work for operators within a food court or other areas that share a custodial team?

For vomit and diarrheal clean up, you are responsible for the areas you control. In a shared food court, this is likely the prep area, display counters, serving area and any additional kitchen or storage areas for your establishment.

If a different team is responsible for sanitation in the food court, ensure your staff know how to contact the service team. You are also encouraged you to confirm the service team has ability to respond during the food court operating hours to help ensure the safety of your staff and customers.

Watch our Quick Bites on Policies & Procedures for more details on this topic.

Do we keep a log to validate managerial control?

No. As a general practice, food establishment operators are not required to keep an Active Managerial Control log. However, local health departments may require operators to keep a log during a designated timeframe as part of a corrective action process.

Am I required to have a written plan for Active Managerial Control?

No. A written plan for Active Managerial Control (AMC) is not required. However, having written policies and procedures is a good best practice for successfully implementing Active Managerial Control.

The Department of Health will soon publish an AMC toolkit  you can use as a guide in your establishment. We will update this FAQ and the Quick Bites page when those materials are published.

Watch our Quick Bites on Active Managerial Control for more details on this topic.

Does the Certified Food Protection Manager need to keep an up-to-date food worker card?

If the Certified Food Protection Manager is someone that also works with food within the establishment, then yes, they also need to have a food worker card.

If the Certified Food Protection Manager does not handle food within the establishment (e.g. an outside contractor that serves in a food protection advisory role), they do not need a food worker card.

 

Will ServSafe be updated by March 1st?

All training programs including ServSafe are accredited around national standards. They are not state specific, so they will not necessarily reflect these changes to Washington food code. However, these most recent changes adopted in Washington are based on federal standards, which are already incorporated into the ServSafe training program.

Learn more about ServSafe Manager Training here.

Watch our Quick Bites on the Certified Food Protection Manager role for more details on this topic.

On ground beef can a consumer still request temp of a burger patty?

Yes, you can serve undercooked meat upon request. However, you must have a written consumer advisory on your menu that indicates which animal foods are served undercooked and a reminder of the potential health risk.

 

Regarding the requirements around thawing frozen fish, is breaking the seal sufficient or does the product need to be removed from the packaging?

Breaking the seal before thawing in a refrigerator or immediately after thawing in running water is sufficient. The product does not need to be removed from the packaging.

Watch our Quick Bites on Meats, Poultry, Fish, Shellfish & Produce for more details on this topic.