Food Safety Rules for Restaurants, Grocery Stores Change Jan. 1st

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Dave Franzman

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Any Iowa business serving prepared food will need to note some new safety requirements taking effect January 1st.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals has drafted new food safety standards that take effect with the new year. The rules aim to protect Iowa consumers by requiring food establishments to have a certified food protection manager overseeing the handling of all food on site.

Heidi Peck, Environmental Health Services manager for Linn County Public Health, said there are currently about 1,400 retail food licenses active in Linn County. And about 30 percent of those establishments meet the requirement to have someone who’s earned a certified food protection manager seal.

Peck said the certification course is an eight hour session that provides a license good for five years. The purpose is to teach the safe handling, preparation and serving of food items to prevent food-borne illnesses.

The new requirements for a certified food protection manager will apply immediately to any new establishment opening in 2014, with the requirement to have someone licensed within six months. Existing restaurants and other places that serve prepared food would have to meet the requirements by January 1, 2018. Any establishment failing a health inspection, with a violation that could potentially cause an illness, would also have to get someone on the staff certified within six months.

Peck said the final state rules were recently drafted, so some restaurants and other places that serve food may still be learning about the requirement. She said the requirement will not change the certification process or what is taught to people about food handling safety. Rather, it will add requirements that make owners and managers more accountable for insuring public health.

Steve Mandernach, Food and Consumer Safety Bureau chief for the state Department of Inspections and Appeals, said about half the states in the country currently have a certified food protection manager requirement. Mandernach said research has shown that such a requirement leads to a reduction in food-borne illness cases.

The Iowa Restaurant Association has backed the requirement for all member restaurants.

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