New Safety Rules for Hawai‘i Food Establishments Take Effect Sept. 2

August 28, 2017, 11:59 AM HST · Updated August 29, 11:07 AM
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New state food safety rules in Hawaiʻi designed to improve public health protection will go into effect on Sept. 2, 2017.

New food safety are set to go into effect on Sept. 2, 2017. Courtesy file photo: UH Maui College culinary student preps food.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health has amended Chapter 50, Food Safety Code, after completing public hearings on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Maui and Oʻahu in December 2016 and March 2017. The amended rules will affect all food establishments statewide with new requirements for the industry.

New Mandate for Food Handlers Education Certification

One of the major rule changes is a new mandate for Food Handlers Education certification for persons-in-charge at all food establishments. This will ensure a minimum baseline of food safety knowledge for all facility owners and managers. Health officials say studies have shown that food establishments with properly trained persons-in-charge have a lower occurrence of critical food safety violations that are directly linked to food illnesses.

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The new rule requires that at least one employee present at every food establishment during normal work hours (including during food preparation) must have a formal food handlers training level certification. DOH will accept certification recognized by the American National Standards Institute.

Training is available online from various vendors with fees averaging $10-$15 for certification. Proof of certification will be required during health inspections after Sept. 2, 2018. DOH will allow the industry one year to comply with this new provision.

Other changes to the state’s Food Safety Rules include the following:

  • Health inspectors may post placards during all types of inspection, including those for general complaints, and may post a “CLOSED” red placard at food establishments operating without a valid permit.
  • DOH may refuse permit renewals for food establishments with unpaid fines or stipulated agreements more than 30 days overdue.
  • DOH approval will be required prior to the sale of all “Wild Harvested Mushrooms.”
  • Permit exemptions will be allowed for residential child and adult day care providers, and bed and breakfast operators when certain conditions are adhered to. While exempt from permit requirements, these establishments may be subject to state health inspections.
  • Exemptions will also be allowed for the sale of “Homemade Foods” foods that are not potentially hazardous (e.g. certain pre-packaged foods). While exempt from permit requirements, these establishments may also be subject to state health inspections.
  • Special Event Temporary Food Establishment permits will be restricted to 31 days at a time. Consecutive permits may be allowed. Permit fees will remain at $100 for a 20-day permit with an additional $5 fee for each day over 20 days.
  • The section of the rules for Mobile Food Establishments has been removed and these regulations will be incorporated into the general regulations for all food establishments. All Mobile Food Establishments are required to access a state approved facility to support their food operations safely.
  • Full adoption of the 2013 FDA Model Food Code to include regulations governing reduced oxygen packaging. This will provide Hawaii with the most current nationally recognized food safety practices based on the most recent scientific studies conducted on food safety.

The DOH Sanitation Branch protects and promotes the health of Hawaii residents and visitors through education of food industry workers and regulation of food establishments statewide. The branch conducts health inspections of food establishments where food products are prepared, manufactured, distributed, or sold.

The branch also investigates the sources of food borne illnesses, and works to control and prevent foodborne outbreaks. Health inspectors work with business owners, food service workers, and the food industry to ensure safe food preparation and conditions.

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