Food Safety

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Food Safety

Director: Keith Higman


Public Health Food Safety
Permitting, Inspections, Illness Prevention and Investigation

Skagit County Public Health Department's Food Safety Program is responsible for inspecting and permitting retail food service establishments (FSE). Our mission is to prevent illnesses caused by improper preparation of food through foodworker education, consumer education, disease investigation, and inspections of everything from restaurants to high school concession stands.

Be aware of Food Safety Recalls

Food Handler Cards and Training
Annual Food Service Permits
Restaurants, Espresso Stands, Stores, Mobiles
Temporary Food Services Permits
Food Borne Illness Information
Consumer Food Safety
Food Safety in Emergencies
Retail Food Safety NEWS
Food Code Updates - Chapter 246-215 WAC


On March 1, 2022, an updated version of the Washington State Food Code became effective. This page will provide information on those changes. For even more information, see the Washington State Department of Health's Food Safety Rules and Regulations.

While there are dozens of changes to the code, the Department of Health has also created this Food Rule Key Changes brochure to help summarize the main code changes. They also have translated versions, which are located on the Department of Health Food Safety Rules and Regulations website. Food Rule Key Changes- Spanish

Here are some of the main code changes that establishments have asking about and some useful links to educational materials and templates.


Establishments must have written procedures for employees to follow when responding to events that involve the discharge of vomit or fecal matter onto surfaces in the food establishment. The procedures must include specific actions employees must take to clean and sanitize the area to:

• Minimize vomit and fecal matter exposure to employees and customers.
• Minimize the contamination of food and surfaces.

Here are a couple of templates as an option for establishments to use when creating their written procedures.

Department of Health AMC Toolkit Vomit and Diarrhea clean-up plan template
Skagit Co. Public Health template vomit & diarrhea clean-up plan


The information below must be provided to each food worker in a way that can be verified. The Person in Charge must be able to prove that every food worker has received this information.

Diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, jaundice, a lesion on hand or wrist containing pus or an infected wound on hand or wrist that is open and draining.

Norovirus, Hepatitis A virus, Shigella, Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, Salmonella Typhi (typhoid fever), Salmonella (non-typhoidal). Verifiable methods could include:
• Keeping a signed statement for each employee stating they have been made aware of this requirement.
• Clearly posting this information in the employees work area or break room, with a sign-off sheet that employees sign once they have gone through it.
• Creating a curriculum and keeping a roster of the employees that attend or go through that training.


There are some specific foods that will need to be marked and used within seven days. Those foods are refrigerated, ready-to-eat, perishable foods that are prepared in-house or in open packages. This applies only to foods that will be held in the establishment for more than 24 hours. Written labels on food containers, day dots, or other systematic procedures that effectively track the expiration of foods are acceptable.

The day of preparation counts as day one. If you combine any ingredients that are date marked, you must continue to use the earliest date for the new product. If a food item has been cooled on-site and will be held in the establishment for more than 24 hours, date marking will be required, starting with the first day of cooling.

The Washington Department of Health has created an AMC toolkit- Date Marking template as an option for establishments to use when creating written procedures. Below are some other examples of foods that require date marking, as well as some exceptions:


Under certain conditions, and under an approved plan, dogs may be allowed in outdoor seating areas. These conditions are important for preventing contamination by keeping dogs away from food and food-prep areas. ALL conditions must be met to safely allow dogs onto the premises.
• Notifications. A plan must be submitted to the Skagit County Public Health for approval.
• No seat at the table. All dogs must be kept under control by their owners. This means on a leash or in a pet carrier. Dogs are not allowed on chairs, tables, or benches.
• Look, but don’t touch. It can be difficult to resist the urge, but employees may not pet, hug, or have any direct contact with the dogs while they are working. Thinking of providing bowls for water or treats? Be aware that dog dishes may NOT be washed on-site.
• Clean up! Accidents happen. The important thing is making sure they are cleaned up quickly. Keep the area clear of any animal waste.
• No outdoor food preparation. Food and drinks may not be prepared in outdoor areas that allow dogs. Do not store utensils in this area, either. Be sure an outer entrance is available. Dogs needing to pass through the establishment to reach the outdoor area is not allowed.
• Dogs inside? Establishments that only pour beverages produced in a licensed processing plant, such as beer or wine, may allow dogs inside. Indoor areas must keep signage posted notifying customers that dogs are allowed inside. Skagit County Public Health must be notified in advance prior to allowance of dogs inside.

The Washington Department of Health has created an AMC Toolkit- Pet Dogs on Premises template as an option for establishments to use when creating written procedures.


The new code allows for containers to be refilled or reused if certain requirements are met. There are different requirements for containers that are provided by the food establishment or containers that are brought in by the customer.

The Washington Department of Health has created an AMC Toolkit – Refilling Consumer-owned Containers template as an option for establishments to use when creating written procedures.


Fresh, unfrozen finfish, such as halibut or salmon, may be served to customers partially cooked, if:
1. It is upon customer request only.
2. The menu item is clearly disclosed as being able to be ordered undercooked.
3. The customer is reminded of the risks related to consuming fresh partially cooked fish, which must include mention of parasites. This reminder must be separate from other consumer advisories on your menu.


Establishments must post the most recent routine inspection report from Skagit County Public Health or post information on how the consumer can obtain this information from Skagit County Public Health.


• The first and last date that shellstock from a container is sold or served must be recorded on the label. That label must be kept for 90 days after the last is used.
• Cook hamburger to an internal temperature of 158 degrees F or above for safety.
• The term TCS for Time/Temperature Control for Safety replaces PHF for Potentially Hazardous Food
• Sanitizers are required during ALL hours of operation, not just during food preparation.
• Surfaces used with raw fish must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized before using the same surface for other species.


By March 2023, the new food code will require each food service establishment to have a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). This CFPM will need to have passed an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved food manager test. There is a list of six ANSI-CFP accredited courses that will meet that requirement.

Five things to note about the new requirement:
1. The CFPM does not need to be on-site, although a copy of the certificate does. This means that not all managers need to be certified. You could have one person designated as the CFPM for the food service establishment or even several establishments.
2. An establishment will have 60 days to replace a CFPM if their previous CFPM leaves.
3. The CFPM will be responsible for implementing a food protection program which helps each Person in Charge (PIC) and any other employees follow the food code.
4. The CFPM will be responsible for training each PIC so that they understand food safety concepts and are able to demonstrate knowledge and maintain Active Managerial Control (AMC).
5. A CFPM is not required to take a class, although it is encouraged. They are just required to pass one of the ANSI approved food manager tests.


State Department of Health and the Washington Hospitality Association produced some short training videos covering the major food code updates. These videos are available for viewing by anyone on the Washington Hospitality Association website Quick Bites- Feb, 17, 2022

AMC Toolkit Vomit and Diarrhea clean-up plan Word template
AMC toolkit- Date Marking Word template
AMC Toolkit- Refilling of Customer-owned Containers Word template
AMC Toolkit- Pet Dogs on Premises Word template


700 South Second Street
Room 301
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone (360) 416-1500