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  1. CFSAN Constituent Updates

FDA Releases Decoding the Food Code: Information to Assist the User, an Online Based Training Module

Constituent update

June 14, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today the release of Decoding the Food Code: Information to Assist the User, an online based training module developed to engage and educate stakeholders on the foundational policy principles of the Food Code. The FDA publishes the Food Code, a model that assists food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating the retail and food service segment of the industry (restaurants and grocery stores and institutions such as nursing homes). Local, state, tribal, and federal regulators use the FDA Food Code as a model to develop or update their own food safety rules and to be consistent with national food regulatory policy.

This training module was designed to help our stakeholders, including all levels of government and industry, understand the structure, nomenclature, and conventions of the Food Code. The Food Code and this Decoding the Food Code: Information to Assist the User training module are resources for protecting public health and ensuring food is unadulterated and safe when it is offered to the consumer at retail and in food service establishments.

This training module fills gaps in knowledge and can empower local regulators and other stakeholders to better interpret and utilize the Food Code to prevent foodborne illness. Understanding how to read codified text, finding applicable provisions and their accompanying annexes are some ways stakeholders can use the training module as an overall reference in navigating the Food Code.

Decoding the Food Code: Information to Assist the User aims to:

  • Explain the chapter structure and its function in the Food Code
  • Identify Chapter, Part, Sub-part, Section, Paragraph, and Sub-paragraph and how these delineations are used
  • Describe the purpose of debitable and nondebitable provisions
  • Summarize how the words “under” and “in” are used to create cross references
  • Explain how the Code’s presentation of requirements by principle rather than by subject makes the Code shorter and provides a logical sequence of topics
  • Demonstrate the meaning and use of italics
  • Define the three risk designations and demonstrate their use in prioritizing your inspectional work
  • Define the terms “shall”, “may”, “may not”, and “means” and understand their action, provide examples
  • Identify what type of text alerts the reader to a defined term, describe the importance of definitions
  • Describe the importance of the Annexes and their topical content

Strengthening stakeholder knowledge of the practical, science-based principles for reducing risk factors known to cause or contribute to foodborne illnesses associated with food establishments is paramount to reducing foodborne illness.

Members of the FDA’s National Retail Food Team are available to assist regulatory officials, educators, and the industry in their efforts to adopt, implement, and understand the provisions of the FDA Food Code. Inquiries may be sent to retailfoodpolicyteam@fda.hhs.gov or directly to an FDA Retail Food Specialist located across the country.

Additional Information:

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