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Ohio Makes Changes to Uniform Food Safety Code

On March 1, 2016 the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Health began implementation of multiple changes to the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code. The new Code Chapter 3717-1 was revised so that it includes provisions contained in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2013 model food code. This document highlights key changes that are important for operators to know and understand.

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Background and Summary

On March 1, 2016 the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Health began implementation of multiple changes to the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code. The new Code Chapter 3717-1 was revised so that it includes provisions contained in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2013 model food code.

When do the new rules go into effect?

The new food safety Code became effective in Ohio on March 1, 2016.

What types of establishments are affected by the new rule?

The new Code applies to all retail food establishments and food service establishments within the state of Ohio.

What are the new rules?

The new regulation contains several significant changes affecting food establishment operators in the state. Below is a list of important changes of which to be aware. Key Definitions Have Been Added or Modified

  • The term enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) has been deleted from the Code and is included in the revised definition of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC).
  • The term “securely” was deleted from the definition of Packaged to avoid undue emphasis on the nature of the package.
  • The phrases “carry out box” and “other nondurable container” were removed from the definition of Packaged in order to clarify when foods packaged at retail need to be labeled. The definition now reads: Packaged does not include wrapped or placed in a carry-out container to protect the food during service or delivery to the consumer, by a food employee, upon consumer request.
  • The definition of Reduced Oxygen Packaging was revised to remove the phrase “placed in a hermetically sealed, impermeable bag” and replace it with “vacuum packaged in an impermeable bag” so as to clearly define the sous vide process. The definition now reads: Sous vide packaging, in which raw or partially cooked food is vacuum packaged in an impermeable bag, cooked in the bag, rapidly chilled, and refrigerated at temperatures that inhibit the growth of psychrotrophic pathogens. 
  • Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) was revised to reflect current nomenclature.

Other Important Changes

  • Clarification that the requirement to wash hands before donning gloves is specific to the beginning of a task involving working with food and not during the task.
  • Clarify and align the FDA Code with applicable Code of Federal Regulations (CFR’s) and the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act (FD & C Act) with regard to the use of hand antiseptics as a food additive.
  • New language added to require that all Level 3 and 4 facilities must have one employee who has obtained a level Two Certification in Food Protection. The requirement must be met within one year of the effective date of the rule.
  • Temporary, mobile, vending and risk level I & II food service operations (FSO) or retail food establishments (RFE) are exempted from the requirement to have an employee certified in food protection.
  • The person-in-charge (PIC) must ensure that that employees are informed in a verifiable manner of their responsibility to report information about their health to the person-in-charge.
  • The PIC must ensure that employees are verifying that foods delivered to an FSO or RFE during nonoperating hours are from approved sources and are placed in appropriate storage locations at the required temperatures, protected from contamination, unadulterated, and accurately presented.
  • The PIC is required to ensure that the FSO or RFE have written procedures for employees to follow when responding to vomiting or diarrheal events.
  • Clarification that if a food employee contacts ready-to-eat food with their bare hands when the food is added as an ingredient to a final product that does not contain a raw animal food, the final product must only be heated to 145°F.
  • Minimum cook temperatures and times specified for engaging in non-continuous cooking process for raw animal foods.
  • Scallop products consisting solely of the shucked abductor muscle are excluded from the requirements for parasite destruction.
  • Removed language prohibiting storing comminuted meats or non-intact meats above whole-muscle intact cuts of meat unless the packaging precludes contamination potential.
  • Allowance for food to make direct contact with surfaces of linens and cloth napkins.
  • Conditions clarified for when re-use of returnables and refilling of returnable take-home containers is permitted.
  • Devices used on-site to generate chemicals for washing raw, whole fruits and vegetables are addressed

What significant provisions in the FDA 2013 Model Food Code will be delayed in implementation in the state of Ohio?

Full implementation of several provisions in the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code will be delayed.

  • Allowing juice which has not undergone a five (5) log reduction to be processed in one FSO or RFE and transported to another as long as the processing facility is inspected by Ohio Department of Agriculture and both facilities are licensed under the same name.
  • Language specifying that frozen fish packaged using reduced oxygen packaging (ROP) method shall be removed from the ROP environment either prior to initiating thawing under refrigeration, or immediately upon completion of thawing completely submerged under running water.
  • Exemption of raw, live in-shell molluscan shellfish from date marking.
  • Exemption of shelf-stable dry fermented sausages produced in a USDA regulated facility from date marking does not depend on the product being kept in the original casing.
  • Shelf stable salt-cured meats are exempted from date marking regardless of whether the label states “Keep Refrigerated”.
  • Clarification that only TCS foods prepared under ROP methods that do not control for growth of and toxin formation by Clostridium botulinum and the growth of Listeria monocytogenes require a variance.
  • Clarification that a food establishment must notify the regulatory authority before executing a HACCP plan.
  • Removed the requirement for a variance when harvesting seed or bean sprouts.
  • Multiple changes to ROP rules.
  • Multiple non-substantive changes.

Where can I find a complete update of the Ohion Uniform Food Safety Code?

The state does not plan to release a complete printed update to the Code until the delayed provisions are implemented. To view the Code changes that became effective March 1, 2016 go to

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