Food Safety Innovations in Federal Guidelines

By Lipcsei, Lauren; Radke, Taylor | Journal of Environmental Health, September 2017 | Go to article overview

Food Safety Innovations in Federal Guidelines


Lipcsei, Lauren, Radke, Taylor, Journal of Environmental Health


Editor's Note: NEHA strives to provide up-to-date and relevant information on environmental health and to build partnerships in the profession. In pursuit of these goals, we feature a column from the Environmental Health Services Branch (EHSB) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in every issue of the Journal.

In these columns, EHSB and guest authors share insights and information about environmental health programs, trends, issues, and resources. The conclusions in this column are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of CDC.

Lauren Lipcsei and Taylor Radke are both Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) research fellows in EHSB's Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services at the National Center for Environmental Health.

In January 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services released an updated version of the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities (Figure 1), previously known in 2011 as the Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations. These guidelines apply to food service concession and vending operations at federal facilities (e.g., a full-service cafeteria in a federal building, a full-service restaurant in a national park, or a self-service food operation at a national monument), and will be used for developing contracts and permits. The Food Service Guidelines Federal Workgroup that developed the guidelines included more than 60 representatives from the following nine federal departments and agencies:

* U.S. Department of Agriculture,

* U.S. Department of Commerce,

* U.S. Department of Defense,

* U.S. Department of Education,

* U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

* U.S. Department of the Interior,

* U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,

* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and

* U.S. General Services Administration. The updated guidelines include four sections: Food and Nutrition; Facility Efficiency, Environmental Support, and Community Development; Food Safety; and Behavioral Design. Each section identifies two levels of criteria implementation that are considered during the negotiation of contracts between federal facilities and food service contractors. The two levels of criteria are:

1. Standard Criteria

a. Criteria that are considered to be widely achievable.

b. Implementation at this level is expected.

2. Innovative Criteria

a. Criteria that promote exceptional performance and are deemed more attractive by federal facilities during contract bidding.

b. Implementation at this level is encouraged. These two levels of implementation are supported by scientific findings and align with existing national policy or guidance.

Food Safety

September is National Food Safety Month and we would like to highlight the Food Safety section of the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities, which was not included as its own section in the 2011 guidelines.

Each year in the U.S., foodborne illness causes approximately 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths (Scallan et al., 2011). To reduce this burden, the Food and Drug Administration publishes the Food Code, which provides a scientifically sound basis for addressing food safety issues in retail food and food service establishments. The Food Code has served as the primary model for retail food regulation since its first edition in 1993.

The primary food safety standard criteria in the guidelines is that contractors operating in federal facilities are expected to adhere to the most recently published version of the Food Code and its Supplement. This standard applies to concessions where food is prepared and sold or served.

The food safety innovative criteria identify behaviors and practices that go beyond the Food Code. …

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