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November 13, 2013

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Changes to California Retail Food Code effective Jan. 1, 2014

As an ongoing statewide effort to keep consumers safe from unadulterated foods and to ensure there is a uniform health and sanitation standard, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that makes several technical and clarifying changes to the current California Retail Food Code (Cal Code). Local health agencies are responsible for enforcement of these laws.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014 employees at retail food facilities – including mobile food facilities and temporary food facilities – will be prohibited from contacting exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands unless the permit-holder obtains prior approval from the local enforcement agency, and written procedures and documentation are maintained and made available to regulators upon request, including a list of specific ready-to-eat foods that are touched by bare hands for each contact procedure. 

The existing code requires that all employees thoroughly wash their hands before preparing food or donning gloves to work with food. It also requires the use of gloves any time an employee contacts food or food-contact surfaces when they have a cut, sore or rash on their hands. The law has been clarified to require hand-washing when changing gloves. It also prohibits an employees who has a wound that is open and draining from handling food unless covered. The owner also must require that employees report any open or draining wound to management, unless it is covered or protected.

In addition, the new law clarifies that a service animal in training, qualifies as a service animal, and deletes a requirement that the work or tasks performed by a service animal be directly related to an individual’s disability.

The California Restaurant Association (CRA) will distribute more information as regulators’ plans for enforcement become available.

Click here to read the law in its entirety

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