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NC DHHS: Food Protection Program

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The mission of the Food Protection Program is to reduce the risk of food-borne illness and other communicable diseases by ensuring reasonable protection by providing progressive leadership, resources, and education for the promotion of public health, safety and confidence for the people.

Webinar Highlights

Entities under Food Protection and Facilities Branch

  • Food service establishments – restaurants, buffets, food stands, mobile food trucks, and push carts
  • Meat markets
  • Lodging and Bed & Breakfasts (Air BnB is not included in this category)
  • Institutions
  • Camps – residential, summer and primitive
  • Adult Day Services
  • Local Confiment
  • Residential Care Homes

North Carolina DHHS Regions in 2024

North Carolina Rules

This Division finds their rules outlined in NC General statute 130A-248, namely, the .2600 Rules. Within, we see rules that include:

The North Carolina Food Code:

  • Newest version became effective on October 1, 2021
  • Requires legislative approval

Public display of Grade Cards

  • Must be easily seen by the public, or location agreed upon between DHHS & facility
  • Must be displayed at all times
  • Includes food served on a mobile food unit or push cart
  • Includes grading:
    • At least 90% = Grade A
    • At least 80 and less than 90% = Grade B
    • At least 70% and less than 80% = Grade C
    • Lower than 70% = immediate revocation

The North Carolina Food Code Annex

Provides supporting information to the Food Code, including:

  • Why the provision exists
  • Why the provision is important
  • The science behind the provision

Examples of information found in the Annexes:

  1. Guidances and Position Statements
  2. No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods
  3. Time and temperature parameters for cooking, holding, cooling and reheating
  4. Consumer advisory statements for consumption of raw or undercooked products
  5. Variance information for high-risk food processes such as: reduced oxygen packaging or fermentation
    • Annex 1: Compliance and Enforcement
    • Annex 2: References
    • Annex 3: Public Health Resources
    • Annex 4: Management of Food Safety Practices
    • Annex 5: Conducting Risk-Based Inspections
    • Annex 6: Food Processing Criteria
    • Annex 7: Model Forms, Guides and other Aids’

Foodborne Illness Risk Factors 

  • Improper holding temperatures
  • Inadequate cooking
  • Contaminated equipment
  • Unsafe sources of food
  • Poor personal hygiene

Food Code Interventions

  • Management must demonstrate food safety knowledge
  • Utilize employee health controls
  • Controlling hands as a vehicle of contamination
  • Time & temperature parameters for controlling pathogens
  • Consumer advisories 

2021 Food Code Highlights & Updates

Time and Temperature Control for safety foods

  • Used to identify foods that require cold holding or hot holding during storage and/or display
  • Will no longer see terminology ‘potentially hazardous food’

Certified Food Protection Manager

Reportable Diagnosis

  • Now reporting the ‘Big 6 Diseases’
    • Norovirus
    • Hepatitis A
    • Shigella spp.
    • Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli
    • Salmonella typhi 
    • NEW! Salmonella (nontyphoidal)
  • North Carolina DHHS has created a Food Employee Reporting Agreement that can help establishments start conversation about illnesses with their employees.

Clean-up of Vomiting and Diarrheal Events

  • Must have written procedures for clean-up
  • Goal is to minimize contamination and exposure to employees, consumers and foods
  • North Carolina DHHS has created a written procedure template that can help establishments develop customized and effective procedures for these events

NC DHHS Vomiting and Diarrhea poster

  • Click on image to enlarge and/or download

Inspection Frequency

  • Risk Category IV facilities should expect inspections three times each year (previously once every quarter), AND
  • Will also include an educational visit each fiscal year
    • Educational visits will typically focus on high-risk procedures and foods as well as any prior priority violations

Mobile & Temporary Food Service Units

  • A temporary food establishment will be able to operate in one location for no more than 30-days, a one-time 15-day extension is possible
  • Must also operate in conjunction with events listed in limited food service establishments as listed in G.S. 130-A-247(8)
    • Establishment can not provide customer seating
    • Must provide County Health with locations of operation so they can be regulated
  • Push carts can only be utilized to serve hot dogs and pre-wrapped foods

Non-profit Fundraisers

  • Must be an established non-profit organization
  • Can vend foods for 2 consecutive days each month
  • Should reach out to the County Health Department in the county the event is being held in

Department of Health & Human Services, Food Protection Program Contacts

Cheryl Slachta, REHS Environmental Health Regional Specialist (Eastern Region) (252) 287-7952
Food Protection Program Main Office, Raleigh EHS Website (919) 707-5854

Webinar hosted on May 3, 2024

NIFA logo“This work was supported by the intramural research program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Food Safety Outreach Program 1030908. The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the US Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.”