September 19, 2023

Food safety regulations: What’s changed?

More than 50 new food regulations have been enacted or introduced in just the past five years.
Sesame bread

The most significant federal change was the addition of sesame to the major food allergen groups, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

In an effort to constantly improve the standards of food safety in the U.S., the system of food safety regulations continues to evolve, creating fresh guidelines and protocols in reaction to emerging issues involving food safety. 

The most prominent overall theme in new food-industry regulation is increased and expanded regulatory oversight that works toward building a culture of food safety. Employees are more responsible for food safety protocols with management taking on more of a supervisory role. 

Allergen awareness: Increasing allergen awareness continues to be a top priority for restaurants, with new federal and state laws being introduced. 

The most significant federal change was the addition of sesame to the major food allergen groups, effective Jan. 1, 2023. New state laws are placing focus on properly training managers and employees in allergy awareness and reaction protocols.

Many states are now requiring food establishments to hang posters or signs that display the major food allergens, symptoms of an allergic reaction, and instructions of what to do during an allergic reaction. 
Restaurants: The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was introduced in 2011 with new regulations designed to transform the nation’s food safety system by focusing on preventing foodborne illnesses, instead of responding to them. 

Right now, the FDA does not directly mandate FSMA at the restaurant level. That’s all changing in 2026, as restaurants will be required to uphold all the regulations imposed by FSMA. 2026 is around the corner; it’s crucial to start preparing your restaurant now to create a culture centered around proper FSMA practices. 

ServSafe is in the process of creating guidance that will help simplify this rule so restaurants can easily navigate and comply. 

State updates: To simplify the regulatory landscape in the U.S., states are beginning to adopt a standardized food code. Additionally, certain states, such as California and New York, have introduced new regulations that are specific to their jurisdictions.
Alcohol: Several states have passed permanent alcohol-to-go laws or have extended temporary alcohol-to-go laws. Additionally, some states—such as New Jersey and Virginia—are requiring alcohol delivery courses for third-party delivery drivers. 

The age to serve alcohol to customers has also been lowered in certain states to address labor shortage issues. For example, Kentucky reduced the age to serve to 18, while Michigan’s was reduced to 17 and Iowa is 16. 

Cracking the code on food regs

We’re entering a new era of comprehensive food safety blueprints that will provide enhanced traceability, smarter tools for outbreak prevention and response, and stronger food safety cultures. 

As new regulations are created and introduced, it’s crucial for food establishments to remain compliant in order to protect the health of their guests and the success of their operations. 

Check out our ServSafe Regulatory Map for a detailed, interactive map of the regulations that impact your state and region. Also, make sure to download our free content from previous National Food Safety Month topics and check back next week when we close out NFSM 2023 by discussing how to build a strong food safety culture for your establishment. 

There’s only one more week to take advantage of ServSafe’s offer of 20% off select ServSafe certifications and trainings, including our industry-leading ServSafe Manager, ServSafe Food Handler, and ServSafe Allergens certification courses. 

Crack the code on exceptional food safety for your entire staff by training with the nation’s most trusted restaurant resource.