The rapid evolution of today’s global food market and the rate of new food trends means manufacturers are constantly at risk of violating food safety standards. The 2022 FDA Food Code was released in January 2022 and provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for ensuring the safety of food products amidst all these changes.
Specifically, the 2022 Food Code addresses the fourth core element of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint: Food Safety Culture. The Blueprint was launched in response to changing global food trends. According to the FDA, “...we will see more changes in the food system over the next 10 years than we have over the past several decades.” The New Era of Smarter Food Safety builds on FSMA to explore ways food processors can prepare their operations ahead of these changes.
Plant Management and the 2022 FDA Food Code
Adhering to the 2022 Food Code can help plant management avoid foodborne illness outbreaks, protect public health, and avoid legal and financial liabilities. The Food Code covers a broad range of topics, including employee health and hygiene, food storage and handling, cleaning and sanitation, and facility and equipment design. By following the guidelines in the Food Code, plant management can ensure that their facilities are operating in compliance with industry best practices and regulatory requirements.
In addition to protecting public health, adhering to the Food Code can help food manufacturers and suppliers maintain their reputation and brand image. Consumers are increasingly concerned about food safety, and a foodborne illness outbreak or recall not only damages brand reputation but prevents growth in today’s competitive market. By following the Food Code and implementing strong food safety practices, plant management can demonstrate a commitment to producing safe, high-quality food products and build consumer trust.
It’s important to note that many U.S. states and local jurisdictions have adopted the FDA Food Code or modified versions of it as part of their regulatory framework. Adhering to the Food Code can help food producers ensure compliance with these regulations and avoid penalties and fines for non-compliance.
How Does the 2022 Food Code Impact Plant Production?
The FDA Food Code is intended as guidance for state, city, county, and tribal regulatory agencies responsible for retail operations such as:
- Restaurants Retail food stores
- Food vendors
- Food service operations in institutions (such as “schools, hospitals, assisted living, nursing homes, and child care centers)
The 2022 Food Code’s Summary of Changes is 19 pages long, with the majority of updates addressing editing to previous versions, to improve consistency and correct errors. However, among the changes, Sr. Food Advisors Dr. Lily Yang & Dr. Karla Acosta, at The Acheson Group, have identified five specific changes that may impact food producers’ operations.
Definitions of Ready-to-Eat Foods, Different Meats, and Seafood
“Ready-to-Eat” (RTE) foods, as defined in the 2022 Food Code, have been expanded and more defined.
The terms “mechanically tenderized” and “injected” have been replaced by “NonIntact Meat” and updated the table of “Internal Cooking Temperature Specifications for Raw Animal Foods” to reflect the “proper cooking time/temperatures under intact meat.”
Sesame as a New Allergen
Sesame became the ninth big allergen, requiring updates to the 2022 Food Code. As the ninth major food allergen, producers must label any sesame products to avoid costly recalls. There are multiple product names that substitute for "sesame" (e.g. Tahini), and consumers should be informed - in writing - of the presence of any form of sesame.
Person-in-Charge and Training
The 2022 Food Code addresses an additional duty of the Person In Charge, to ensure employees are “properly maintaining the temperatures of time/temperature control for safety foods during thawing.”
The updated Food Code outlines what is required for foods to be safely donated to consumers.
Previously, a temperature of 100 degrees was suggested but that has been reduced to 85. Not needing to use such hot water can improve handwashing compliance, plus reduce energy costs for manufacturers and plants.
Staying on top of the 2022 FDA Food Code standards is crucial for plant management at food companies to maintain compliance and keep up with the evolving global food trends. The rate of these trends will continue to shift industry standards at a similar pace. Learn more about the specifics of the 2022 Food Code: How the FDA Food Code Impacts Food Producers.