skip to main content

Public Health - Seattle & King County

Washington Food Rule Changes, May 2013

Adobe Acrobat icon This information also available in PDF format

Washington State is updating the state's food service rule (WAC 246-215) to be in line with the 2009 FDA Model Food Code. A team of Washington stakeholders worked with the FDA model to develop the code changes adopted by our state. Stakeholder representatives on the team were from industry, consumers, academia, and regulatory agencies.

This brochure describes several of the most significant changes you'll need to make by May 1, 2013. It is important to know all of the changes the rule expects. Please read it at the following website, and if you have questions, ask your inspector:

Hot holding

New May 1! Hot holding temperature will be 135°F.

The minimum temperature Potentially Hazardous Food is to be kept hot (hot holding) will change from 140°F to 135°F. Cold holding temperature will still be 41°F.

Potentially hazardous food

New May 1! Cut leafy greens and cut tomatoes will be on the list of PHFs.

Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF) need to be kept hot at 135°F or above or cold at 41°F or below for safety. PHFs includes meat, fish, poultry, cooked starches (such as rice, potatoes & pasta), sliced melons, sprouts, fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures, dairy products, and cooked produce.

Like other PHFs, after May 1, cut leafy greens and cut tomatoes will now need to be kept at 41°F or below.

"Cut leafy greens" means fresh leafy greens whose leaves have been cut, shredded, sliced, chopped, or torn. The term "leafy greens" includes iceberg, romaine, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf, escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula and chard. The term "cut" does not include removing and discarding the exterior leaves. The term "leafy greens" does not include herbs such as cilantro or parsley.

Washing produce

New May 1! New rule clarifies use of running water to properly wash produce, including sprouts and herbs.

Fresh fruits and vegetables will need to be rinsed in running water before being cut, peeled, or otherwise prepared for service. Produce that is soaked or crisped in water will also need to be rinsed after soaking. Sprouts and herbs were specifically identified in the new rule because current practice does not often include rinsing under water prior to service.

Service animals

New May 1! Service animals in food establishments will be defined ONLY as a dog (or miniature horse).

For food establishments only, a service animal can only be a dog (or miniature horse) that is individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Disabilities include physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability, as specified in RCW 49.60.218.

Wild mushrooms

New May 1! Wild mushrooms may be sold in restaurants as long as proper guidance is followed.

Food establishments may serve or sell wild- harvested mushrooms as long as the mushrooms are from an approved list of species, the mushrooms are provided with documentation signed by the mushroom identifier, the records are maintained for ninety days, and the mushrooms are served cooked to 135°F or sold raw for home preparation, such as at farmers' markets.

Children's menus

New May 1! Meats listed on a children's menu will not be able to be served undercooked.

Animal products like hamburgers and eggs that are listed within a children's menu section will not be allowed to be served undercooked.

Noncontinuous cooking

New May 1! Pre-approval will be necessary to partially cook animal products that will be cooked further before serving.

Food establishments that partially cook meat for final cooking later will be required to have written procedures pre-approved by your inspector. The rule requires that partial cooking of the animal product be for no more than 60 minutes. Then, it must be properly cooled and cooked to 165°F before service.

Meats prepared using an interrupted cooking process, but that do not meet the definition of grill marking (see below), would be required to be cooked to at least 165°F before service. They would NOT be allowed to be served undercooked.

Grill marking

New May 1! Grill marked foods must be cooked fully or provided with a consumer advisory.

Animal products (such as beef, pork, poultry, and fish) that are grill marked (seared for less than one minute per side) and held for finish cooking at a later time must be cooled immediately, marked for additional cooking, and store separately from ready-to-eat food. Before serving, grill marked meats and fish must be heated to the proper internal cook temperature (unless a consumer advisory is posted) before service.

Grill marked animal products may not be cooled again for serving another time.

Contact us

Downtown Seattle
401 5th Ave., Ste. 1100
Seattle, WA 98104

Phone: 206-263-9566

14350 SE Eastgate Way
Bellevue, WA 98007

Phone: 206-477-8050