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On January 1, 2014, updates and changes to the California Retail Food Code signed into law last October went into effect. This free Public Health Information Brief summarizes several of the key changes, including the rule on no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food in CalCode Section 113961.
The CalCode lacked a definition for “Highly Susceptible Population.” The omission was corrected and clear definition is now provided.
Handwashing and Hygienic Practices
CalCode now permits hands to be washed before initially donning gloves to work with food, rather than every time gloves are donned, unless hands become contaminated. The code also makes it clear that single use gloves cannot be washed for re-use.
No Bare Hand Contact with Ready-to-Eat Food
The previous language in Section 113961 of the CalCode was repealed in its entirety and new language added.
The Code now specifically prohibits bare hand contact with ready-to-eat (RTE) food except when washing fruits and vegetables.
It also clarifies that suitable utensils or dispensing equipment must be used to prevent bare hand contact and specifies that the type of glove to be used to prevent bare hand contact with RTE food must be a single use glove.
The no bare hand contact with RTE food provision does not apply to touching food or food ingredients during preparation of a RTE food if the final food product is going to be cooked to heat all parts of the final product to required temperatures.
Bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food is allowed in a non-highly susceptible population facility only if prior approval is granted by the enforcement agency. The process for obtaining approval for bare hand contact is clearly spelled out in the revised code section 113961.
Wound Care and Reporting
The reference to “open or draining” nature of a wound and the term lesion were eliminated from the Employee Health section of the Code. All wounds on hands, wrists, and exposed portions of the arms must be reported to the person-in-charge unless the wound is properly protected by an impermeable cover and/or single use glove. Employees with wounds that are not properly covered are strictly prohibited from handling food or utensils.
The definition of a service animal was revised to limit service animals to dogs only. No other type animal is allowed for use as a service animal. The Code now describes in detail the type of tasks service dogs are expected to typically perform.
A provision was added to the Code to allow use of temporary alternate food storage methods and locations if approval to do so is granted by the enforcement agency.
“Direct sale” was redefined in the Code to make it clear that it applies to a transaction within the state between a cottage food business operator and the consumer.
Class A cottage food operators are now required to renew their registrations annually but are still not subject to inspection by the enforcement agency.
Class B cottage food businesses are still required to obtain a permit and be subject to inspection by the enforcement agency because they are allowed to engage in “indirect sale” of food to retail establishments, including restaurants.