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December 26, 2013

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Update: Officials institute six-month soft roll-out for new bare hand contact ban

At the urging of the California Restaurant Association (CRA), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH) have agreed to implement  a six-month soft roll-out for the new law banning bare hand contact with prepared food, instead of strictly enforcing the new law Jan. 1. The ban was included in AB 1252, which instituted several changes to the California Retail Food Code.

CCDEH and CDPH have been discussing appropriate enforcement action to be taken for violations since the law was signed. Undoubtedly, many retail food facility owners and operators of all sizes -- from chains to mom-and-pop shops -- will be affected by the law, and may remain unaware of the new bare hand contact rules or unable to implement new procedures in time to be compliant by Jan. 1.

With that in mind, CCDEH and CDPH have agreed to implement a soft roll-out, so retail food facilities should not be cited for a violation of this section during the first six months of 2014.

Rather, if prohibited bare hand contact is observed during the first six months, the incident will be noted on the inspection report as a warning and the operator will be educated as to the specifics of the new rule as well as the reasons behind the new rule. The CCDEH, the CDPH and industry representatives will continue to work on enforcement guidelines over the next few months. Guidance documents will be developed and distributed before July 1.

Bare hand contact fact sheet and FAQ.

See San Diego County's recommended alternative operating procedures.

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