New Jersey Food Safety Code Overhaul

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New Jersey has adopted the most sweeping changes to its food safety code since the 1970s, bringing the state in line with national standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. announced today.

"We've updated the food safety rules over the years, but this is the first complete overhaul we've conducted in three decades," Dr. Jacobs said. "Consumers will enjoy better protection because these rules reflect better scientific understanding of how to prevent food-borne illnesses."

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About 50,000 New Jersey food stores, restaurants, banquet facilities, caterers and other retail food establishments are governed by the rules published January 2 in the New Jersey Register, the state's journal of rulemaking.

Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines, chapter 24 of the New Jersey Administrative Code, is modeled on the FDA Food Codes of 2001 and 2005. The state's new rules are more detailed than older regulations, making requirements clear and specific.

One example of the new and more detailed rules is the hand washing requirements for food workers. The rule gives specific instructions on exactly how to wash and how long to wash; when to wash, including after handling raw animal products; and how to dry hands safely.

At the same time, the rules provide food establishments some flexibility in the methods they use to meet certain food safety standards.

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