Food Safety Program

In September 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health adopted new Food Code regulations incorporating the 2013 FDA Federal Food Code. These regulations

 apply to all Food Service Establishments and became effective upon adoption of the revised code. 

The code changes are summarized in the document Overview of Changes to105 CMR 590.00

Please review the new Annotated Merged Code (2013 Federal Food Code and Massachusetts-specific requirements) and Added and Changed Definitions.

All food service establishments are required to keep a copy of this code on the premises.

Food Code Training can be found here MHOA/MEHA Food Code Training

TCS & NTCS Foods

Temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS) Foods or Potentially Hazardous Foods

A food which supports the growth of disease-causing bacteria. If bacteria growth occurs, illness can result. Examples of such foods are: milk and milk products, hamburgers, chicken, burritos, chili, eggs, fish, cooked rice, cooked beans, egg rolls, cooked pasta, meat gravies, custard desserts and some cream-filled pastries and cut vegetables, i.e. lettuce, tomatoes, cantaloupe, bean sprouts.

Non-Temperature Controlled for Safety (Non-TCS) Foods or Non- Potentially Hazardous Foods

A food which will not support the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Examples of such foods are: dry goods, dry cereals, dehydrated and un-reconstituted foods, candy bars, popcorn, potato chips, canned pop and sodas.

Variance Request

When requesting a variance from the Food Code, you are asking for permission to conduct a specialized food process or for some other change to your operation that varies from the Code. Varying the Code may present a danger to public health, and therefore an “approved” variance is required. Specialized processes can include : smoking, curing, sprouting, fermentation, drying, operating a raw molluscan shellfish tank life support tank, using food additives to render a food not potentially hazardous, using reduced oxygen packaging, and custom processing of animal. Each variance request for a specialized processing method MUST be accompanied by a HACCP plan.

A request for variance from the requirements of the 2013 FDA Food Code, Reading Health Code, or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Food Code (105CMR 590.00) will only be considered if the form is filled out completely. Approval will only be granted if, in the opinion of the Board of Health , the reasoning for variance is sound and variance request will not create a health hazard or nuisance condition.

Variance requests will be heard at the Monthly BOH meetings that occur every first Thursday of each month. Please fill out the Variance Request form and submit it to the Health Department.