Foodservice Equipment Reports

FDA Calls For On-Site Food Protection Managers

The Food Safety & Modernization Act awaits a possible cloture vote in the U.S. Senate, but improving food safety remains at the forefront for government agencies. This includes the federal Food and Drug Administration, which is recommending that all restaurants and retailers employ certified food protection managers.

The FDA’s recommendation was timed with the late October release of a 10-year study of retail food-risk factors. While it found overall improvement, the agency noted that operations with an onsite food protection manager showed significantly higher compliance levels with food safety practices. The study  found that full-service restaurants with certified food protection managers had a 70% compliance rate with food safety practices, compared with a 58% compliance rate at those without one. The study looked at more than 800 retail food establishments, including full-service restaurants and delis, in 1998, 2003 and 2008 and focused on five risk factors: unsafe food sources, inadequate cooking; improper holding of food related to time and temperature; contaminated food surfaces and equipment; and poor personal hygiene. Improvements were noted in all areas during the 10-year study span, but the latter three areas require continued improvement, according to the study.

The FDA will likely add a provision requiring a food protection manager to future editions of its non-compulsory FDA Model Food Code. State and local agencies can reject or adopt all or parts of the Food Code, which recommends standards for management and personnel, food operations and equipment and facilities. The FDA’s recommendation was met with support from both the National Restaurant Association and the National Council of Chain Restaurants.

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