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Top 10 Things That CDMs Should Know About the FDA Food Code

List Compiled by: Colleen Zenk, MS, CDM, CFPP, Food Safety Educator and Consultant

1. The FDA Food Code is a guideline — not a federal law — that agencies with responsibility for food safety either adopt or adapt to their own jurisdiction. A full updated Food Code is released every four years, with supplements released for the existing code in between the four-year span as FDA deems needed.

2. Know what regulatory agency oversees your facility or place of work! This will determine which food code is being followed — federal or state/local codes.

3. The FDA Food Code is organized into eight chapters which contain specific guidelines for those topics. There are also annexes with backup information for the guidelines.

4. The FDA Food Code excludes foodservice operations where care standards are set by CMS or The Joint Commission. Regulations from those organizations require that the Person in Charge be able to demonstrate knowledge of food safety principles and have policies and procedures in place to protect the clients that are served food in that facility.

5. The CDM, CFPP in charge of a foodservice department is responsible for setting the food safety standards for the operation. Those policies and procedures are an extension of the FDA Food Code, and it, as well as other food safety material, may be used to establish standards and implement procedures.

6. The FDA Food Code defines highly susceptible populations for foodborne illness and specifies requirements for safeguards for this group in Chapter 3, Section 801.11.

7. The Food Code spells out the responsibility of the Person in Charge or the permit holder to require that all food employees report any symptoms or diagnosis of a foodborne illness. The guidelines for employee health are contained in Chapter 2 Section 2 of the FDA Food Code.

8. Culture change is important, but food safety and all safe food handling practices and standards must still be maintained.

9. Proper handwashing is vital to keeping food safe. Using gloves and other barries are additional layers of protection that can be initiated. CDMs should educate all employees on the importance of thorough handwashing, as well as proper techniques of glove use and the other barriers being used.

10. Food safety is a cooperative effort. It is important that CDMs be familiar with the guidelines in the code as it is periodically updated, and keep up on current issues in food safety. Food safety is everybody’s job — all the way through the food chain.

Go to to access more detail on this Top 10 list, as well as links to the FDA Food Code, State Retail and Food Service Codes and Regulations by State, ANSI Standards, CMS, the Conference for Food Protection, and much more.

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