(Oct. 12) The Food and Drug Administration has released the 2005 edition of the food code.

Jim Gorny, vice president of quality assurance and technology for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Washington, D.C., said the federal food code provides technical guidance to state and local officials who have jurisdiction over food handling safety at foodservice and retail.

Because FDA does not have authority over retail and foodservice operators, Gorny said the idea behind the food code from the FDA is to provide the document as a way to harmonize state and local laws relating to food handling.

The food code addresses issues like date labeling of food and what kinds of foods should be refrigerated, he said.

United’s Quality Assurance and Technology Council has formed a model food code committee to review issues that may affect foodservice and retail operators, Gorny said.

According to an Oct. 6 news release from the FDA, the food code is used by nearly 3,000 regulatory agencies that oversee food safety in restaurants, grocery stores, nursing homes and other institutional and retail settings.

The FDA noted the document is produced in collaboration with the Conference for Food Protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The agency said the most significant changes to the code this year include:

  • An updated definition of potentially hazardous food (also known as time/temperature control for safe food) to reflect those that could allow pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation.

  • Refocused date-marking provisions on foods that present a higher risk of contamination.

  • Updated employee health provisions to include better ways to protect public health, based on new science on pathogens that are most likely to be transmitted from an infected food worker through food to consumers.

  • A summary of changes that appear in the 2005 food code is available online at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fc05-sum.html.