Highlights of the Current Rhode Island Food Code


To provide information on the food safety principles included in the 1994 Rhode Island Food Code that are of critical importance to the Certified Food Safety Manager


August of 1994, Rhode Island adopted a new model food code which replaces the Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Food Establishments and Regulations Relating to the Sanitation of Food Businesses. Rhode Island’s new code is based on the Food and Drug Administration’s 1993 Food Code.The requirements contained in the code for foodservice establishments, retail, vending operations and processors emphasize preventing foodborne illness problems rather than detecting them in food.

The numbers in parenthesis refer to the specific section in the Food Code. A copy of the Code may be obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Food Protection, (401) 222-2750.


Chapter I-Purpose and Definitions

Are included in the Code to explain and clarify the Code’s requirements.

A food item that has been made smaller by chopping, grinding or mincing. This includes food items whose ingredients are changed such as gefilte fish, formed roast beef, gyros, ground beef, sausage and a mixture of two or more types of meat that have been chopped, flaked, ground or minced and mixed together such as sausages made with two or more meats. A higher cooking temperature is required for comminuted foods (See Chapter 3 for more detail).

Critical Item
A step or process in the Code, that if not followed is more likely than other steps or processes to contribute to food contamination, illness or environmental deterioration. Critical items in the Code are denoted with an asterisk *.

Food Establishment
An operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption: such as a restaurant; satellite or catered feeding location; catering operation if the operation provides food directly to the consumer or to a conveyance; institution; or food bank; a transportation vehicle or central preparation facility that supplies a vending location; a mobile, stationary, temporary or permanent facility or location; where consumption is on or off the premises; and regardless of whether there is a charge for the food.

Food Processing Plant
A commercial operation that manufactures, packages, labels or stores food for human consumption and does not provide food directly to the consumer.

A written document that includes procedures for following the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point principles is required for certain food preparation and processing operations.

Highly susceptible populations of people who are more likely than other groups of people to get a foodborne illness. This includes the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, the very young and pregnant women. They may live in a health care facility, assisted living situation or a custodial care facility. The Code has more stringent requirements for food served to this population because they are at greater risk of foodborne illness.

Person in charge
The person who is responsible for the operation of the food establishment at the time of inspection. The Code includes an outline for the responsibilities and knowledge requirements of the person in charge.

Potentially hazardous foods
Includes but is not limited to foods of animal origin that are raw or heat treated; a food, of plant origin that is heat treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons; garlic and oil mixtures. Potentially hazardous foods do not include: air-cooled hard boiled egg with the shell intact; a food with a water activity of 0.85 or less; a food with a pH of 4.6 or below when measured at 75 F; a food, in an unopened hermetically sealed container, that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility in dry storage and distribution; a food for which a variance has been granted when laboratory evidence demonstrates that rapid and progressive growth of infectious and toxigenic microoganisms or the slower growth of C. Botulinum cannot occur.


Chapter II-Management and Personnel Supervision

  • There must be a person in charge in the facility during all hours of operation of the food establishment
  • The person in charge must know and apply the following information listed in section 2-101.11 of the Code. (This knowledge may be demonstrated through certification as a manager certified in food safety as required under separate regulations):
    • Preventing foodborne illness
    • Application of HACCP principles including identifying critical control points in the operation from purchasing through sale or service that may contribute foodborne illness. This includes explaining and showing steps taken to assure that the points are controlled as required by the Code.
    • The RI Food Code requirements and other related subjects as requested by a RI Department of Health official.
    • The person in charge must assure that employees are implementing the following processes and procedures and monitor them daily (2-103.11):
    • Thoroughly cleaning hands.
    • Properly cooking potentially hazardous food especially those foods known to cause severe foodborne illness and death including eggs and comminuted meats, and checking routine monitoring of the cooking temperatures.
    • Using proper methods to rapidly cool potentially hazardous foods that are not held hot and are not eaten within four hours and checking routine monitoring of food temperatures during cooling.
    • Properly re-heating and hot holding potentially hazardous foods.
    • Consumers who order raw or partially cooked foods of animal origin are informed in writing (by brochures, deli case or menu advisories, label statements, table tents, placards, etc) of the significantly increased risk associated with vulnerable consumers eating certain foods raw or undercooked (3-603.11).
    • Consumers under the age of twelve may not be served raw or partially cooked comminuted foods of animal origin.
    • The establishment/facility is operating in compliance with all regulatory requirements.
  • Employee Health
    The person in charge must require all food employees and job applicants to provide information about their health as related to certain diseases including (2-201.11):

    • Active cases of tuberculosis and measles.
    • Is diagnosed with or had a past illness due to Salmonella typhi; Shigella spp, Escherichia coli 0157:H7 or Hepatitis A viruses infection.
    • Symptoms such as abdominal cramps or discomfort; diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite for three or more consecutive days, vomiting, jaundice or open or draining wound on the hands.
    • The person in charge, may not allow an employee to work, or may restrict an employee’s job assignments in the facility depending upon the nature of their illness/symptoms (2-201-12, 2-201-13).
  • Personal Cleanliness
    Food employees must wash their hands and exposed portions of their arms twice, for twenty seconds each time using hot water and soap and rinsing with hot water. They must use a nail brush during the first washing to clean fingertips, nails, and between fingers. This procedure must be followed after (2-301-13):

    • Beginning or returning to work.
    • Using the bathroom.
    • After coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or tissue.


Chapter III-Food

  • Temperature Danger Zone-41°-140° F.
  • Pasteurized Eggs substituted for Shell Eggs (3-302.13) Pasteurized liquid, frozen, or dry eggs or egg products must be substituted for shell eggs in the preparation of:
    • Food items in which eggs are not thoroughly cooked including: Caesar salad, hollandaise or bernaise sauce, eggnog and other egg-fortified beverages, ice cream , and noncommercial mayonnaise.
    • Eggs for a high risk population that are combined and not cooked and eaten right away.
  • Preventing Contamination from Hands
    • Employees may not touch ready-to-eat food with their bare hands. They must use utensils ie: deli tissue, spatulas, tongs or single use gloves (3-301.11).
    • Single-use gloves are used for only one task, such as working with ready-to-eat food or raw poultry and not used for other purposes. Cooking Final End Cooking Temperatures (3-401.11 to 3-401.14)
    • Poultry and stuffed meats -165° F for 15 seconds.
    • Ground pork and ground beef and -155° F for 15 seconds.
    • Most other potentially hazardous foods-145° F for 15 seconds.
    • Beef roasts- 140° F (temperature to be maintained for 12 minutes) or 130° F (temperature to be maintained for 121 minutes) or as otherwise specified in sections 3-401.11 to 3-401-15 of the Code.
    • Establishments serving a highly susceptible population (ie hospital, nursing home) cannot be exempt from the above listed cooking temperatures (3-401-11 B)
  • Microwaved Food Temperatures (3-401.15)
    • Heating an additional 25° F or higher than conventional end oven product temperature. *Rotated and stirred during cooking.
    • Covered to retain surface moisture.
    • Allowed to stand covered for two minutes after cooking to obtain an even temperature.
  • Cooling (3-501.14)
    Cooked potentially hazardous must be cooled:

    • From 140° F to 70° F within two hours; and from 7O° F to 41° F or below within four hours.
    • Potentially hazardous food must be cooled to 41° F or below within four hours if prepared from ingredients at room temperature, such as canned tuna.
  • Ready to Eat Potentially Hazardous Food, Date Marking
    • Refrigerated ready to eat potentially hazardous food prepared and held for more than 24 hours must be marked with the date of preparation.
    • A container of ready to eat potentially hazardous food prepared and packaged elsewhere must be marked with the manufacturer’s “sell-by” or “use by date”. If the product is not sold or served within ten days, it must be thrown out.
  • Time as a Public Health Control (3-501.19)
    • Food must be served or thrown out within four hours from the time it is removed from temperature control and the total time, including cooling time (time the food was between 45° and 140° F) cannot be more than four hours. Approved written procedures must be kept at the food establishment.
  • Variance and HACCP Plans Required for Food Processing and Food Manufacturing operations at Retail (3-502.11)
    • Before smoking or curing food; brewing alcoholic beverages; using food additives as a method of preservation; using reduced oxygen method of packaging food as specified in 3-501-12.
    • Custom processing animals that are for personal use as food and not for sale or service in a food establishment; or preparing food by another method that is determined by the regulatory authority to require a variance.
  • Packaged Food Labels (3-602-11)
    *Foods packaged in a food establishment shall be labeling according to law including 21 CFR 101 Food Labeling, 9 CFR 317 Labeling, Marking Devices and Containers and 9 CFR 317 Subpart N.


Chapter IV-Equipment, Utensils, and Linens

  • Equipment, Food Contact Surfaces, and Utensils (4-602.11) shall be cleaned:
    • Before each use with a different type of raw animal food including beef, fish, lamb, pork or poultry.
    • Each time there is a change from working with raw foods to working with ready-to eat foods.
    • Between uses with raw fruits or vegetables and with potentially hazardous food.
    • Before using or storing a food temperature measuring device.
    • Any time during the operation when contamination could have occurred.
    • Food contact surfaces and equipment used for potentially hazardous foods should be cleaned as needed throughout the day, but must be cleaned no less than every 4 hours.
  • Sanitation of food contact surfaces and utensils (4-703.11)
    After being cleaned, equipment food contact surfaces and utensils must be sanitized by:

    • Minimum ten second contact time for chlorine sanitizes.
    • Minimum thirty second contact time for all other approved sanitizers


Chapter VIII-Compliance and Enforcement

  • When a HACCP Plan is Required (8-201.13)
    • The permit holder must submit to the RI Department of Health for approval a HACCP Plan for approval if a variance is required.
    • A variance is required for: smoking or curing food; brewing alcoholic beverages; using food additives as a method of preservation; using reduced oxygen method of packaging food; custom processing animals that are for personal use as food and not for sale or service in a food establishment; or preparing food by another method that is determined by the regulatory authority to require a variance. (see 3-502-11).
  • Contents of the HACCP Plan (8-201-14)
    • Listing of the potentially hazardous foods by categories that are being prepared/ processed.
    • Flow diagram for each category of food identifying critical control points and providing information on: ingredients, materials and equipment used in preparation.
    • Recipes that include methods and control measures that address food safety concerns.
    • Employee training plan
    • Statement of standard operating procedures (SOP’s) for the plan that include: each critical control point and its critical limits; method and frequency of monitoring and controlling each critical control point; corrective action to be taken; records to be maintained that demonstrate that the HACCP plan is operational.
    • Scientific data or information which will validate that food safety is not being compromised by the proposed plan.


Prepared by: Martha Smith Patnoad, MS, CFSP, Cooperative Extension Food Safety Education Specialist, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Rhode Island.

Reviewed by: Ernest Julian, PhD, Chief, Division of Food Protection, Rhode Island Department of Health Dr Lori Pivarnik, Research Associate IV, Food Science Specialist, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Rhode Island 9/95, 12/99