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Stricter Food Safety Guidelines At Restaurants, Hotels Start Jan. 1

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

CBS Miami (con't)

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FLORIDA (CBSMiami) – Beginning in January, your restaurant experience will be a little different, particularly in the menu.

Florida is changing the way it inspects restaurants and warns consumers about possible allergens in their meals.

The new guidelines come after changes to the National Food Safety Codes that were mandated by Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)…all the way back in 2009.

Alain Turras wonders how safe and healthy the food is when he goes out to eat.

“Sometimes you go out and wonder about how the food’s being cooked, whether it’s healthy. Sometimes after eating at a restaurant, I’m not feeling very well,” Turras explained.

They’re aimed at making prepared foods safer and cutting down on food borne illnesses.

Effective January 1st, restaurants will have to disclose all potential allergens – like nuts and fruits – in its recipes to help consumers avoid foods that they are either allergic to or that would make them sick.

Kids meals can’t just be warmed up anymore: they’ll have to be fully cooked to kill off any potentially dangerous food-borne bacteria.

And inspection violations will be better classified into 3 categories…from the  2 which are used now..to provide more detailed information for food safety areas that need to be improved.

Violations could be serious, such as improper hand-washing or undercooking food; intermediate, such as inadequate employee training or labeling; or basic, which the Code deems best practices to implement.

It is unclear why incorporating best practices is classified as a violation. More information on the 2009 Food Code can be found here.

The Florida Restaurant Association supports the changes which will be phased in statewide starting next month.

Restaurants will still face a minimum of 2 mandatory food safety inspections a year.

Lee Neal is a Doral restaurant operator who said, “It’s red tape but it shouldn’t be too bad since a good operator ought to be doing it right anyways.”

Florida remains one of the few states in the nation that doesn’t “grade” food safety and require those grades to be openly posted for customers to see.

In addition to the changes for food service operators, lodging operators will also see the three-tiered system replace the designations of “critical” or “non-critical” violations.

Inspection reports are available online at myfloridalicense.com, and consumers still have the right to ask for, and be shown a restaurants’ most current inspection report.

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