Important Changes to the North Carolina Food Service Sanitation Rules

The North Carolina Rules governing the sanitation of Food Service Establishments 15A NCAC 18 A .2600 changed and became effective on September 1, 2012.  The new rules are based on the 2009 FDA model food code and current food science.  The following are just a few of the changes that will directly affect food safety procedures required of food service establishment operators.  Please become familiar with the changes!

Cold Holding


Cold holding units, including prep top units, will be required to maintain food at a temperature of 41° or below.  The 41° or below requirement will be phased in over a 6 year period.

Cooling of Potentially Hazardous Foods

Potentially hazardoius foods must be cooled from 135°F to 41° F within a total of six hours as follows:

  • From 135° F to 70° F within two hours
  • From 70° F to below 41° F within four hours
Bare Hands Contact with Ready to eat (RTE) Foods

Food handlers will not be allowed to touch RTE foods with their bare hands to prevent contamination of food that is not cooked or food that will not be cooked again before serving.  The use of utensils such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, single use gloves, or dispensing equipment will be required.

Manager and Operator Food Safety Knowledge

The person in charge (PIC) must demonstrate to the regulatory authority their food safety knowledge by passing a test that is part of an accredited food safety training program to become a certified food protection manager.  A certified food protection manager must be present during all hours of operation.

  • The two-point bonus will no longer be granted.
  • On-line course training will be accepted.
  • Exams must be proctored and a passing score must be achieved to become certified.
  • Certification through an accredited program must be renewed every five years.
  • Operators must comply with this rule effective January 1, 2014.
Employee Hand Washing

Food handlers must wash their hands and exposed portions of their arms in the following situations:

  • Immediately before food prep, working with clean equipment and utensils, and unwrapped single-service/single-use articles
  • After using the toilet
  • After coughing, sneezing or using a tissue
  • After eating, drinking or using tobacco
  • In between working with raw food and ready-to-eat (RTE) food
  • Before putting on gloves to prepare food
  • After handling soiled equipment or utensils
  • After caring for or handling service or aquatic animals
  • As often as necessary to remove soil and contamination to prevent cross-contamination when changing tasks
  • After performing other activities that contaminate the hands or arms.
Consumer Advisory

If an animal food such as beef, eggs, fish, lamb, port or shellfish is served or sold raw, under-cooked, or without otherwise being processed to eliminate pathogens, the permit holder shall inform consumers of the significantly increased risk of foodborne illness from consuming such foods by way of a disclosure and reminder, using statements, table tents, placards or other effedtive means.

Date marking

All ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous foods prepared on site and held in refrigeration for more than 24 hours must be marked with the date of preparatin or with the date that indicates when the food shall be consumed, sold or discarded.  If stored at 41° F or below, products may be held for 7 days; if stored between 41° F – 45° F, only 4 day storage is allowed.  This also includes commercially processed foods (such as deli meat) once they are opened.

Employee Personal Hygiene
  • Food handlers must not wear fingernail polish or artificial nails when working with exposed foods unless single-use gloves are worn.
  • Food handlers may not wear jewelry on their arms and hands except for a plain ring, such as a wedding band during food preparation.
  • Food handlers must only eat, drink or use tobacco products in designated areas to prevent the contamination of exposed food, clean equipment, utensils and linens, and other items needing protection.
The Employee Helath Policy Agreement Must Include the Following Information:

Food service employees must report to the manager or owner (person in charge = PIC) when they are sick with an illness that can be transferred by food

Food service employees must inform the PIC if they are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Sore throat with fever
  • An infected cut or other infection on the hands, wrists, or exposed areas of the ar

Food service employees must inform the PIC if they have been diagnosed with any of the following illnesses:

  • Norovirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Shigellosis
  • Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
  • Salmonella typhi
Employee Health Policy Agreement

Employers will be required to have a signed Employee Health Policy Agreement on file for each employee.  This agreement spells out the responsibilities for the employer AND the employee when there is an illness that could affect the safety of food.  A sample copy of the Employee Health Policy Agreement will be made available on the Wake Country Environmental Services website.