Food Code Updates
Beginning March 1, 2022, an updated version of the Washington State Food Code will be implemented. This page will help keep you up-to-date with those changes. For even more information, see the Washington State Department of Health's Food Safety Rules and Regulations.
While there are dozens of changes to the code, the first three code changes on this page are changes that every food establishment should prepare for as soon as possible.
The Department of Health has also created this Food Rule Key Changes brochure to help summarize the main code changes. They also have translated versions, which are
CERTIFIED FOOD PROTECTION MANAGER (CODE SECTIONS 02107 & 02110)
Clean Up Plan of Vomit and Diarrhea Events (Code Section 02500)
Establishments must have written procedures for employees to follow when responding to events that involve the discharge of vomit or fecal matter onto surfaces in the food establishment. The procedures must include specific actions employees must take to clean and sanitize the area to:
- Minimize vomit and fecal matter exposure to employees and customers.
- Minimize the contamination of food and surfaces.
The Washington Department of Health has created an AMC Toolkit - Vomit and Diarrhea Clean-up Plan template as an option for establishments to use when creating their written procedures.
Employee Health (Code Section 02205)
The information below must be provided to each food worker in a way that can be verified. The Person in Charge must be able to prove that every food worker has received this information.
Food workers must inform the Person in Charge if they have:
Diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, jaundice, a lesion on hand or wrist containing pus or an infected wound on hand or wrist that is open and draining.
Food workers must inform the Person in Charge if they are diagnosed with:
Norovirus, Hepatitis A virus, Shigella, Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, Salmonella Typhi (typhoid fever), Salmonella (non-typhoidal).
Verifiable methods could include:
- Keeping a signed statement for each employee stating they have been made aware of this requirement.
- Clearly posting this information in the employees work area or break room, with a sign-off sheet that employees sign once they have gone through it.
- Creating a curriculum and keeping a roster of the employees that attend or go through that training.
The Snohomish Health District has created Restriction and Notification of Ill Food Workers posters and employee signature handouts to help you meet this requirement in a verifiable way. They are all located on our Educational Resources page.
Date Marking (Code Section 03526)
There are some specific foods that will need to be marked and used within seven days. Those foods are refrigerated, ready-to-eat, perishable foods that are prepared in-house or in open packages. This applies only to foods that will be held in the establishment for more than 24 hours. Written labels on food containers, day dots, or other systematic procedures that effectively track the expiration of foods are acceptable.
The day of preparation counts as day one. If you combine any ingredients that are date marked, you must continue to use the earliest date for the new product. If a food item has been cooled on-site and will be held in the establishment for more than 24 hours, date marking will be required, starting with the first day of cooling.
The Washington Department of Health has created an AMC Toolkit – Date Marking template as an option for establishments to use when creating written procedures.
Below are some other examples of foods that require date marking, as well as some exceptions:
|Date Marking Required
(if prepared in-house or in an opened packaged)
|Date Marking NOT Required|
|Milk (animal, nut, soy)||Cultured dairy products (yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk)|
|Deli meats, hot dogs, and sausages||Shelf-stable pepperoni and salami|
|Soft cheese (such as brie, feta, mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta)||Hard and semi-soft cheese (cheddar, colby, gouda, swiss, parmesan, processed slices)|
|Pâté and meat spreads||Raw meats and poultry|
|Hard boiled eggs||Raw shell eggs|
|Sushi-grade salmon||Oysters in-shell|
|House-made potato and macaroni salad||Commercially made deli salads (open packages are okay)|
|Cut melons, tomatoes, and leafy greens||Whole melons, tomatoes, and heads of lettuce|
Dogs in Food Establishments (Code Section 06570)
Under certain conditions, and under an approved plan, dogs may be allowed in outdoor seating areas. These conditions are important for preventing contamination by keeping dogs away from food and food-prep areas. ALL conditions must be met to safely allow dogs onto the premises.
- Notifications. A plan must be submitted to the health district for approval.
- No seat at the table. All dogs must be kept under control by their owners. This means on a leash or in a pet carrier. Dogs are not allowed on chairs, tables, or benches.
- Look, but don’t touch. It can be difficult to resist the urge, but employees may not pet, hug, or have any direct contact with the dogs while they are working. Thinking of providing bowls for water or treats? Be aware that dog dishes may NOT be washed on-site.
- Clean up! Accidents happen. The important thing is making sure they are cleaned up quickly. Keep the area clear of any animal waste.
- No outdoor food preparation. Food and drinks may not be prepared in outdoor areas that allow dogs. Do not store utensils in this area, either. Be sure an outer entrance is available. Dogs needing to pass through the establishment to reach the outdoor area is not allowed.
- Dogs inside? Establishments that only pour beverages produced in a licensed processing plant, such as beer or wine, may allow dogs inside. Indoor areas must keep signage posted notifying customers that dogs are allowed inside. Snohomish Health District must be notified in advance prior to allowance of dogs inside.
The Washington Department of Health has created an AMC Toolkit – Dogs on Premises template as an option for establishments to use when creating written procedures.
Refillable/Reusable Containers (Code Section 03348)
The new code allows for containers to be refilled or reused if certain requirements are met. There are different requirements for containers that are provided by the food establishment or containers that are brought in by the customer.
|Industry-Provided Take-Home Containers||Consumer-Owned Containers|
|Easily cleanable, provided by the food establishment and intended for repeated use.||Easily cleanable, intended for repeated use.
|Contamination-free refill processes.||Contamination-free refill processes.|
- Refilled by employee.
- Inspected by employee to make sure the container is in good condition prior to refilling.
- Washed, rinsed, and sanitized ON-SITE.
- No restrictions on food type.
- Prior approval required.
- Refilled by employees or consumer.
- Allow refilling of bulk, packaged and non-ready-to-eat foods.
- Ready-to-eat foods dispensed via chute system or gravity-flow unit.
- No restrictions on food type when filled by employee.
- Refilled by employee or consumer.
- One consumer per one container.
- Only beverages not requiring temperature control for safety. (ex. soda)
- Rinsing facilities available – equipment must provide fresh, hot water under pressure.
- Refilled by employees or consumer.
- All beverage types allowed.
Partially Cooked Finfish Consumer Advisory (Code Section 03620)
Fresh, unfrozen finfish, such as halibut or salmon, may be served to customers partially cooked, if:
- It is upon customer request only.
- The menu item is clearly disclosed as being able to be ordered undercooked.
- The customer is reminded of the risks related to consuming fresh partially cooked fish, which must include mention of parasites. This reminder must be separate from other consumer advisories on your menu.
The Snohomish Health District has created a Partially Cooked Finfish Consumer Advisory handout.
Inspection Report Notification (Code section 08350(11))
Establishments must post the most recent routine food safety inspection report from the Snohomish Health District or post information on how the consumer can obtain this information from the District. This can be done by posting your 2023 permit, which will have new language on it about accessing inspection reports.
The Snohomish Health District has also created a View Inspection Report poster with a QR code that customers can use to look at the inspection report.
Other Food Code Changes
- The first and last date that shellstock from a container is sold or served must be recorded on the label. That label must be kept for 90 days after the last is used. (Code section 03290)
- Cook hamburger to an internal temperature of 158 degrees F or above for safety. (Code Section 03400)
- The term TCS for Time/Temperature Control for Safety replaces PHF for Potentially Hazardous Food (Code Section 01115 (127))
- Sanitizers are required during ALL hours of operation, not just during food preparation. (Code Section 04350)
- Surfaces used with raw fish must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized before using the same surface for other species. (Code Section 04605)