Wisconsin Food Code Changes

Wisconsin Food Code Changes

The State of Wisconsin adopted a new food code that took effect September 1, 2013.  Wisconsin had been operating under the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) 2005 Food Code.  Wisconsin is now operating under the FDA’s 2009 Food Code.  Important changes in the new Wisconsin Food Code include:

Chapter 1 – Definitions

  • The term potentially hazardous foods (PHF) is replaced with Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods.
  • Cut leafy greens and cut fresh tomatoes are considered TCS foods that require a seven-day date mark and cold holding at or below 41 degrees F.
  • Cut leafy greens include leafy greens whose leaves have been cut, shredded, sliced, chopped, or torn.  This includes lettuce, spinach, cabbage and kale, but not herbs and spices.
  • The term Critical violations is replaced with Priority and Priority Foundation items.  A Priority item is an action or procedure that prevents, eliminates or reduces hazards that cause food borne illnesses (i.e. proper hand washing).  A Priority Foundation item is a provision that supports the compliance of Priority items (i.e. properly stocked hand washing sink).

Chapter 2 – Management and Personnel

  • The person in charge must ensure that all employees are properly trained in food allergy awareness.  The food allergens employees must know are:  milk, eggs, fin-fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.
  • Norovirus is added to the list of diagnosed food borne illnesses in which an employee must not be allowed to come to work.
  • Prewash sinks in new or extensively remodeled establishments and those establishments with a change to ownership are no longer allowed to be used as a hand washing sink.

Chapter 3 – Food

  • Frozen, commercially processed and packaged raw animal foods can be stored in a freezer with frozen Ready to Eat (RTE) food.
  • The process of non-continuous cooking of raw animal foods is allowed but requires a written approved plan by the regulatory agency.
  • Children’s menu items that contain ground meats cannot be served in a raw or undercooked form.
  • New date markings exemptions.  Commercially prepared deli salads (e.g. chicken, pasta or potato salads), cultured dairy products (e.g. yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk) and preserved fish products (e.g. pickled herring, dry or salted cod, and other acidified fish products no longer require date marking or discard within 7 days after opening.
  • Mechanically tenderized meat is added to the list of foods that must be cooked to an internal temperature of 155 degrees F.  Mechanically tenderized means manipulated with blades, pins, needles or other mechanical penetrations.  Mechanically tenderized does not include injecting with a solution.
  • Packaging food using a reduced oxygen packaging (ROP) method is allowed with an approved variance.  Contact your local sanitarian if you are interested in using ROP.
  • Fish eggs that have been removed from the skein and rinsed are exempt from freezing for parasite destruction.

Chapter 4 – Equipment, Utensils and Linens

  • Rinsing equipment and utensils after sanitizing is allowed, but only when specific parameters are met.

Chapter 5 – Water, plumbing and waste

  • Toilets and urinals may no longer be used as a mop sink in a restaurant.  The cleaning of mops and disposal of mop water must be done in a separate service sink or curbed facility equipped with a drain.

Chapter 6 – Physical Facilities

  • A hand drying device that employs a air-knife system delivering high velocity, pressurized air at ambient temperatures is an acceptable way to dry hands.
  • Insects, rodents and other pests shall be controlled to eliminate their presence on premise.  This is a change from “minimizing” the presence of pests on premise.

Chapter 7 – Poisonous or Toxic Materials

  • Ozone is approved as a way to sanitize fruits and vegetables and extend shelf life, as long as the unit is ANSI approved and it is applied in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidance and recommendations.

Cheese Curd Changes

  • Wisconsin currently allows for the sale of unrefrigerated cheese curds on the day they are produced, as long as they are discarded at the end of the day.  The new food code extends the time to 24 hours from the time of production if both the date and time of production are labeled on each package.
  • Cheese curds that are repackaged other than at the dairy plant where they are produced require seven-day date marking.

Juice Processing Changes

  • Prepackaged juice sold at a retail facility where it was processed must have a specific warning label indicating the product has not been pasteurized.
  • If a retail facility is interested in processing and selling juice, contact your local sanitarian to discuss labeling and other requirements.

If you would have further questions or need further clarification on the current Wisconsin Food Code, contact your local sanitarian, they are there to help you out.