New Georgia Food Code Brings Major Benefits To Diners

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Theofficial transition to the 2007 Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR)Public Health Food Service Rules will go into effect this Saturday, Dec. 1,2007. For restaurateurs and food service operators, this means the revisedrules, which up to now were being implemented as an educational inspection, aremandatory. The revised rules for food establishments, chapter 290-5-14,commonly called the food code, was enacted in February of this year.

"Thenew Georgia Food Code has major changes from the past rules, which willultimately benefit all Georgians, regardless of whether you own a restaurant inGeorgia or are just eating in one," said Ron Wolf, executive director ofthe Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA). "It is critical that owners andoperators understand the new code, which is why the GRA if offering numeroustraining courses to members and non-members alike. Plus, our discussion boardlets you learn about the code and interact with subject matter experts who cananswer specific questions."

This newcode is in accordance with the new U.S.food code and it will allow the Georgiafood code to be easily updated every time the U.S. food code is updated, which isevery five years. As well, it brings the opportunity for standardization of thefood code program by the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) so thatfrom county to county, inspections will be more consistent.

The 2007food code now focuses on foodborne illness risk factors and the appropriatepublic health interventions that management and workers must employ withinfoodservice establishments. These code changes incorporate the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention's (CDC) top five risk factors contributing tofoodborne illness: food from unsafe sources, inadequate cooking and internaltemperatures, improper holding temperatures, contaminated equipment and poorpersonal hygiene. Because of the critical nature of the five CDC risk factors,the new inspection report measures compliance for intervention against theserisks. Intervention is accomplished by active managerial control, complyingwith the food code and having no critical violations during a foodestablishment inspection.

Followingis a summary of some of the major changes in Georgia's Food Safety Regulations(Chapter 290-5-14):

--Person-in-charge (PIC) of the operation during inspection must demonstrate foodsafety knowledge

-- Doublehand washing by food service workers is required after using the restroom

-- No barehand contact is permitted when preparing any ready-to-eat foods

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-- Numerouschanges regarding reporting restaurant employee health, including illnesses andinfectious diseases

-- Changesregarding restaurant employees' fingernails, jewelry and hair restraints

-- Newminimum hot holding temperature

-- Datemarking on foods is now required

-- Changesregarding the mixing of old and new foods on self-service buffet or salad bar

-- Maximumholding time and disposal of foods on a self-service buffet or salad bar

-- Cooling hot food before refrigerating

--Certified Food Safety Manager (FSM)must be employed

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