Labeling raw and uncooked foods
Certain potentially hazardous food, often considered delicacies, are traditionally served raw or undercooked, such as Caesar salad dressing, oysters on the half shell, steak tartare, sunny-side-up eggs, medium rare hamburgers and sashimi. There are public health risks associated with eating these foods, including Salmonella, Shigellosis, Vibrio, E. coli 0157:H7 and other bacterial and viral diseases.
The state and local food codes recognize the public's right to eat these foods, but require food service establishments to notify them that foods are raw or undercooked.
- "Raw" is defined as "not cooked." Pasteurized foods, such as eggs, are not considered to be raw. For example, if Caesar salad dressing is made with pasteurized eggs, it does not have to be labeled.
- "Undercooked" is defined as receiving some heat treatment, but not to the temperatures required by the code for that food.
- "Unpasteurized juice" means fruit or vegetable juice that has not been specifically processed to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the presence of pathogens, either through heat pasteurization or in another manner allowed under 21 CFR 101.17(g)(7) [federal law]. This includes any beverage containing juice where neither the juice ingredient nor the beverage has been processed in the above manner.
If you serve foods that are raw or undercooked, you will need to write on your menu, on table signs, or other means that the Public Health Department has approved, that the particular menu item is raw or undercooked and that the consumption of raw or undercooked potentially hazardous foods may result in foodborne illness.
Some examples of acceptable wording are:
- "Raw Oysters on the Half Shell (consumption of raw oysters may result in foodborne illness.)"
- Caesar Salad Dressing: "Our dressing is made with raw eggs (consumption of raw eggs may result in foodborne illness.)"
- "Some of our eggs are undercooked such as sunny-side-up, soft-boiled, and soft poached and are served only upon request (consumption of raw eggs may result in foodborne illness.)"
- "Hamburgers cooked rare, medium rare or pink in the middle may be undercooked and are served only upon request (consumption of raw beef may result in foodborne illness.)"
- "Our orange juice in unpasteurized (consumption of unpasteurized juice may result in foodborne illness.)"
- "Fruit smoothies contain unprocessed fruit juice (consumption of unprocessed fruit juice may result in foodborne illness.)"
If you have a "special of the day" that includes raw or undercooked food, this also needs to be labeled. You can have table cards or add the wording to the readerboard where you announce your specials.
You need to make the appropriate changes in your menu or by whatever other department-approved method you decide to use at your earliest opportunity.