Food Service Code

Kentucky’s Retail Food Code Has Changed

On July 1, 2019 Kentucky’s food code and regulations changed.  The new version of the regulation adopts the standards outlined in the 2013 federal food code and puts Kentucky in line with national standards for retail food safety.

The Lake Cumberland District Health Department strongly urges business owners and food service managers to familiarize themselves with the new code and assure that they are in compliance. Information about the revisions to the regulation and a link to the full FDA 2013 model food code can be found below. All managers and operators are encouraged to review the information. Please contact your local county health inspector if you have questions about how these changes may affect your business.

Points of Interest in the Food Code

  • The “temperature danger zone” is 41°F to 135°F
  • Date marking gives a product a specific number of days to be consumed or discarded
  • Handling ready-to-eat foods requires utensils or gloves that are food-use approved
  • A designated, knowledgeable person in charge is required to be on site during hours of operation
  • Each facility shall have a certified food protection manager.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and utensils is highly important in preventing cross contamination
  • Employees with specific illnesses should be excluded or restricted from work
  • It is required to advise consumers if your establishment serves raw or undercooked foods


All ready-to-eat (RTE), time and temperature controlled for safety (TCS) foods that are prepared on-site (or from opened containers) and are held in refrigeration for more than 24 hours must be marked with the date or day by which the food shall be consumed, sold, or discarded.

IF on site preparation of food to be refrigerated more than 24 hrs, THEN hold at 41°F or less and consume or discard by Day 7.

IF food came from a commercial container, THEN hold at 41°F or less and consume or discard by Day 7.

IF food was removed from the freezer, THEN hold at 41°F or less and consume or discard by Day 7.

Note: Day #1 shall be counted as the day of preparation, removal from container or day & time at which frozen food was thawed.


In most cases, employees are prohibited from touching RTE foods with bare hands (except when washing fruits and vegetables) to prevent food contamination.

Bare hand contact can be avoided by using utensils (such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, or dispensing equipment) or food handler’s single-use gloves. Foods not in RTE form (such as raw meats prior to cooking) shall have minimized contact with food employees’ bare hands and arms.


  • Required hot holding temperature for TCS food is 135° F or above.
  • Required cold holding temperature for refrigeration units must be able to maintain 41° F or below. Eggs may still be held at 45° F or below.


Proper cooling time and temperatures of cooked potentially hazardous foods shall be cooled within:

  • 2 hours from 135° F to 70° F; and
  • a total of 6 hours from 135° F to 41° F or less

A one step process may be used for potentially hazardous foods that are prepared from ingredients at ambient temperature, such as reconstituted foods and canned tuna. These foods shall be cooled within 4 hours to 41° F or less.


The food code provides very specific requirements and guidelines for frequent and effective hand washing. Food employees shall keep their hands and exposed portions of their arms clean

The code requires a sign or poster posted at all hand washing sinks used by food employees that notifies employees to wash their hands.

When to Wash: Food employees shall clean their hands and exposed portions of their arms:

  • Immediately before food prep, working with clean equipment and utensils and unwrapped single-service and single use articles; after using the toilet room; after coughing, sneezing or using a tissue; after eating, drinking or using tobacco; when switching between working with raw food and RTE food; before putting on gloves to engage in food prep; after handling soiled equipment or utensils; after caring for or handling service animals or aquatic animals; as often as necessary to remove soil and contamination to prevent cross contamination when changing tasks; or after engaging in other activities that contaminate the hands and arms.

Employee Cleanliness:

  • Food employees may not wear fingernail polish or artificial nails when working with exposed food unless wearing intact gloves in good repair.
  • Except for a plain ring such as a wedding band, while preparing food, food employees may not wear jewelry on their arms and hands.
  • Food employees shall eat, drink or use any form of tobacco in designated areas only where the contamination of exposed food; clean equipment, utensils and linens; unwrapped single-service and single-use articles; or other items needing protection can not result.
  • Food employees may drink from a closed beverage container if the container is handled in such a way as to prevent contamination of the employee’s hands, the container and any exposed food; clean equipment, utensils and linens; and unwrapped single-service and single-use articles.


imageIf an animal food such as beef, eggs, fish, lamb, milk, pork, poultry, or shellfish is served or sold raw, undercooked, or without otherwise being processed to eliminate pathogens, the permit holder shall inform consumers of the significantly increased risk of consuming such foods by way of a disclosure and reminder, using brochures, deli case or menu advisories, label statements, table tents, placards, or other effective written means.


Each facility shall have a certified food protection manager who is able to direct and control food preparation and service.


Additionally, the person in charge (PIC) of the establishment must demonstrate to the health department that they are knowledgeable about the prevention of food borne disease and food code requirements.

This knowledge can be demonstrated by:

  • Having no critical violations during the current inspection
  • Being a certified Food Protection Manager who has shown proficiency of required information through passing a test that is part of an accredited program or local health department training or
  • Responding correctly to the inspector’s questions and providing satisfactory explanations for each as they relate to the specific food operation

The areas of knowledge are as follows:

  • Describing the importance of food employee personal hygiene in preventing food borne disease
  • Explaining the PIC’s responsibility when an employee has a disease or medical condition related to food borne illness
  • Describing symptoms associated with diseases transmitted via food
  • Explaining the importance of maintaining the temperature/time of TCS food in preventing food borne illness
  • Explaining the hazards of consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs and fish
  • Stating the required food times/temperatures for safe cooking of TCS food
  • Stating the required times/temperatures for refrigerated storage, hot & cold holding and reheating of TCS food
  • Describing the importance of preventing food borne illness by controlling cross contamination, hand contact with RTE foods, hand washing and maintaining a clean establishment in good repair
  • Describing foods identified as major food allergens and symptoms that occur when an individual has an allergic reaction
  • Explaining the relationship between food safety and adequate & properly maintained equipment
  • Explaining the correct procedures for cleaning and sanitizing utensils and food-contact surfaces
  • Identifying the source of water used, measures to ensure it remains free of contamination and protection from backflow
  • Identifying poisonous/toxic materials in establishment and procedures for safe storage, dispensing, using and disposing
  • Explaining the rights/responsibilities/authorities of the food employee, PIC and regulatory authority
  • Explaining the reporting responsibilities of the PIC and food employees for the exclusion/restriction of ill employees


Food employees (both permanent and temporary) shall report to the manager or owner information about their health and activities related to diseases that are transmissible through food. image

Food employees should disclose to the person in charge (PIC) if they are experiencing:

  • vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, sore throat with fever or a lesion containing pus or infected on the hands or wrists (unless protected by an impermeable cover) or exposed portions of the arm.

Food employees shall report if they have been diagnosed by a health practitioner with an illness due to:

Norovirus, Hepatitis A, Shigella, Shiga toxin-producing E coli, Salmonella typhi., or Salmonella non-typhi,  has been exposed to, or is the suspected source of a confirmed disease outbreak of: Norovirus within the past 48 hours of exposure, Shiga Toxin-Producing E coli or Shigella spp.  within the past 3 days, Salmonella within the past 14 days or Hepatitis A within the past 30 days.

The manager or operator shall ensure that a food employee who exhibits or reports a symptom, or who reports a diagnosed illness or a history of exposure to any of the above diseases shall be excluded or restricted from work as specified under 2-201.12


The code provides specific requirements for the procedures that must be followed for cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils in the establishment.

imageFood shall be protected from cross-contamination by:

  • Separating raw animal foods (except when being combined as ingredients) during storage, preparation, holding and display from raw RTE foods (such as fruits, vegetables and fish for sushi)
  • Separating different types of raw animal foods from each other (such as beef, fish, lamb, pork and poultry) during storage, preparation, holding and display by: using separate equipment for each type, or preparing each type of food at different times or in separate areas
  • Proper cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces, equipment and utensils should take place each time there is a change from working with raw foods to working with RTE foods
  • Storing food in packages, covered containers or wrappings and cleaning visibly soiled containers before opening
  • Separating fruits and vegetables before they are washed from RTE foods
  • Storing spoiled, damaged or recalled food being held in the establishment as specified under 6-404.11


The food code provides additional restrictions and requirements for establishments that serve foods to highly susceptible populations defined as persons who are more likely than other people in the general population to experience food borne disease because they are: image

  • Immunocompromised; preschool age children, or older adults; and
  • Obtaining food at a facility that provides services such as custodial care, health care, or assisted living, such as a child or adult day care center, kidney dialysis center, hospital or nursing home, or nutritional or socialization services such as a senior center.


Operators that do not serve highly susceptible populations and under certain circumstances with strict controls may elect to use time (rather than temperature alone) as a method to control the growth of pathogenic bacteria in TCS foods.

Written procedures and strong knowledge of food safety principles are required for this practice. Please refer to 3-501.19 of the Food Code for more details and contact your local inspector if you wish to use this type of practice.