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Retail Food Safety Advisory Council (RFSAC)

The Retail Food Service Advisory Council had its origins in 1996 when a constituent of Representative George Terwilleger’s complained to him about having to obtain a food service operation license from the local health department and a bakery license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and having to undergo inspections from both agencies.  The General Assembly’s response was to pass Am. Sub. House Bill 113, which specified that a food service operation that includes the preparation and serving of bakery products is regulated only under the law governing food service operations.  The bill also created the Food Safety Council, which was to study the duplicate or concurrent inspection requirements of retail food establishments and food service operations and report its findings.  Once the Food Safety Council issued their report to the General Assembly, it was “sunsetted” after six months.

 

When Am. Sub. House Bill 223 was passed in 1999 it required the implementation of the recommendations made by the Ohio Food Safety Council to help address current and emerging issues in food safety.  When the Ohio Food Safety Council (created by Am. Sub. House Bill 113) in 1998 looked at the retail food safety system in Ohio, one of the council’s primary recommendations was the creation of a statewide retail food establishment (grocery store) licensing and inspection program to be conducted by local boards of health with the oversight to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).  The program was modeled after the food service operation (restaurant) licensing and inspection program conducted by local boards of health with the oversight of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) that has been in place since the 1950s.  Additionally, Am. Sub. House Bill 223 required the creation of the Retail Food Service Advisory Council.  The membership of RFSAC would include both the Directors of Agriculture and Health as co-chairs and 12 additional members of follows:

  • Three persons representing the interests of retail food establishments (RFE);
  • Three persons representing the interests of food service operations (FSO);
  •  Four persons representing boards of health or the health departments operated by the boards of health;
  • One person representing the academic community who is knowledgeable in food science or food technology;
  • One person representing the general public who is not employed by this state or any of its political subdivisions and has no pecuniary interest in a retail food establishment or food service operation.

 

Initial appointments to the RFSAC were required to be made by ODA and ODH not later than 90 days after the effective date of Am. Sub. House Bill 223.  Nominees for appointment to RFSAC were solicited from local health districts and organizations representing local health districts, the food service and food establishment industries, academia and consumers.  The duties of RFSAC include:

  • Making recommendations for the  uniform food safety code;
  • Examining specific food safety issues raised by the director of agriculture or director of health and making recommendations regarding those issues;
  • Mediating unresolved issues among state agencies about the interpretation of rules adopted under this chapter and making recommendations regarding the issues;
  • Making recommendations to the director of agriculture and director of health with respect to improving the food safety awareness of consumers and their confidence in the state’s food supply;
  • Making recommendations to the director of agriculture and director of health regarding the licensing categories and inspection frequencies to be used in regulating retail food establishments and food service operations;
  • Making recommendations to the director of health with respect to the program for certification of individuals in food protection and approval of courses in food protection.

Am. Sub. House Bill 223 also required ODA and ODH to adopt the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code based on the current FDA Model Code as the statewide standard for food safety in RFE’s and FSO’s.  Most provisions of Am. Sub. House Bill 223 became effective on Feb. 1, 2001.
 

 

For the next meeting, a current list of RFSAC members and the approved meeting minutes check the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Food Safety Web page.

 

 

last reviewed 11/24/2015