Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code

Part I. Definitions, Purpose, and Administration

12VAC5-421-10. Definitions.

A. Section 35.1-1 of the Code of Virginia provides definitions of the following terms and phrases as used in this chapter.




B. For the purposes of implementing this chapter, the term "food establishment" as defined herein is equivalent to the term "restaurant" as defined in § 35.1-1 of the Code of Virginia.

C. The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

"Accredited program" means a food protection manager certification program that has been evaluated and listed by an accrediting agency as conforming to national standards that certify individuals. "Accredited program" refers to the certification process and is a designation based upon an independent evaluation of factors such as the sponsor's mission; organizational structure; staff resources; revenue sources; policies; public information regarding program scope, eligibility requirements, recertification, discipline and grievance procedures; and test development and administration. "Accredited program" does not refer to training functions or educational programs.

"Additive" means either a (i) "food additive" having the meaning stated in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, § 201(s) and 21 CFR 170.3(e)(1) or (ii) "color additive" having the meaning stated in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, § 201(t) and 21 CFR 70.3(f).

"Adulterated" has the meaning stated in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, § 402.

"Agent" means a legally authorized representative of the owner.

"Approved" means acceptable to the department based on a determination of conformity with principles, practices, and generally recognized standards that protect public health.

"Approved water system" means a permitted waterworks constructed, maintained, and operated pursuant to 12VAC5-590, Waterworks Regulations; or a private well constructed, maintained, and operated pursuant to 12VAC5-630, Private Well Regulations.

"Asymptomatic" means without obvious symptoms; not showing or producing indications of a disease or other medical condition, such as an individual infected with a pathogen but not exhibiting or producing any signs or symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, or jaundice. Asymptomatic includes not showing symptoms because symptoms have resolved or subsided, or because symptoms never manifested.

"aw" means water activity that is a measure of the free moisture in a food, is the quotient of the water vapor pressure of the substance divided by the vapor pressure of pure water at the same temperature, and is indicated by the symbol aw.

"Balut" means an embryo inside a fertile egg that has been incubated for a period sufficient for the embryo to reach a specific stage of development after which it is removed from incubation before hatching.

"Bed and breakfast operation" means a residential-type establishment that provides (i) two or more rental accommodations for transient guests and food service to a maximum of 18 transient guests on any single day for five or more days in any calendar year or (ii) at least one rental accommodation for transient guests and food service to a maximum of 18 transient guests on any single day for 30 or more days in any calendar year.

"Beverage" means a liquid for drinking, including water.

"Bottled drinking water" means water that is sealed in bottles, packages, or other containers and offered for sale for human consumption, including bottled mineral water.

"Building official" means a representative of the Department of Housing and Community Development.

"Casing" means a tubular container for sausage products made of either natural or artificial (synthetic) material.

"Catering operation" means a person who contracts with a client to prepare a specific menu and amount of food in a permitted food establishment for service to the client's guests or customers at a service location different from the permitted food establishment. Catering may also include cooking or performing final preparation of food at the service location.

"Catering operation" does not include:

1. A private chef or cook who, as the employee of a consumer, prepares food solely in the consumer's home.

2. Delivery service of food by an approved and permitted food establishment to an end consumer.

"Certification number" means a unique combination of letters and numbers assigned by a shellfish control authority to a molluscan shellfish dealer according to the provisions of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

"CFR" means Code of Federal Regulations. Citations in this chapter to the CFR refer sequentially to the title, part, and section number, such as 40 CFR 180.194 refers to Title 40, Part 180, Section 194.

"Clean in Place" or "CIP" means cleaned in place by the circulation or flowing by mechanical means through a piping system of a detergent solution, water rinse, and sanitizing solution onto or over equipment surfaces that require cleaning, such as the method used, in part, to clean and sanitize a frozen dessert machine. "CIP" does not include the cleaning of equipment such as band saws, slicers or mixers that are subjected to in-place manual cleaning without the use of a CIP system.

"Commingle" means:

1. To combine shellstock harvested on different days or from different growing areas as identified on the tag or label; or

2. To combine shucked shellfish from containers with different container codes or different shucking dates.

"Comminuted" means reduced in size by methods including chopping, flaking, grinding, or mincing. "Comminuted" includes (i) fish or meat products that are reduced in size and restructured or reformulated such as gefilte fish, gyros, ground beef, and sausage and (ii) a mixture of two or more types of meat that have been reduced in size and combined, such as sausages made from two or more meats.

"Commissary" means a food establishment in which food, food containers, or supplies are kept, handled, prepared, packaged, or stored for distribution to satellite operations.

"Commonwealth" means the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"Conditional employee" means a potential food employee to whom a job offer is made , conditional on responses to subsequent medical questions or examinations designed to identify potential food employees who may be suffering from a disease that can be transmitted through food and done in compliance with Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

"Confirmed disease outbreak" means a foodborne disease outbreak in which laboratory analysis of appropriate specimens identifies a causative agent and epidemiological analysis implicates the food as the source of the illness.

"Consumer" means a person who is a member of the public, takes possession of food, is not functioning in the capacity of an operator of a food establishment or food processing plant, and does not offer the food for resale.

"Core item" means a provision in this chapter that is not designated as a priority item or a priority foundation item. Core item includes an item that usually relates to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), facilities or structures, equipment design, or general maintenance.

"Corrosion-resistant materials" means a material that maintains acceptable surface cleanability characteristics under prolonged influence of the food to be contacted, the normal use of cleaning compounds and sanitizing solutions, and other conditions of the use environment.

"Counter-mounted equipment" means equipment that is not portable and is designed to be mounted off the floor on a table, counter, or shelf.

"Critical control point" means a point or procedure in a specific food system where loss of control may result in an unacceptable health risk.

"Critical limit" means the maximum or minimum value to which a physical, biological, or chemical parameter must be controlled at a critical control point to minimize the risk that the identified food safety hazard may occur.

"Cut leafy greens" means fresh leafy greens whose leaves have been cut, shredded, sliced, chopped, or torn. The term "leafy greens" includes iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce (i.e., immature lettuce or leafy greens), escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula, and chard. The term "leafy greens" does not include herbs such as cilantro or parsley.

"Dealer" means a person who is authorized by a shellfish control authority for the activities of a shellstock shipper, shucker-packer, repacker, reshipper, or depuration processor of molluscan shellfish according to the provisions of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program and is listed in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List, updated monthly (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

"Director" means the district or local health director.

"Disclosure" means a written statement that clearly identifies the animal derived foods that are, or can be ordered, raw, undercooked, or without otherwise being processed to eliminate pathogens , or items that contain an ingredient that is raw, undercooked, or without otherwise being processed to eliminate pathogens.

"Dry storage area" means a room or area designated for the storage of packaged or containerized bulk food that is not time/temperature control for safety food and dry goods such as single-service items.

"Easily cleanable" means a characteristic of a surface that:

1. Allows effective removal of soil by normal cleaning methods;

2. Is dependent on the material, design, construction, and installation of the surface; and

3. Varies with the likelihood of the surface's role in introducing pathogenic or toxigenic agents or other contaminants into food based on the surface's approved placement, purpose, and use.

"Easily cleanable" includes a tiered application of the criteria that qualify the surface as easily cleanable as specified in this definition to different situations in which varying degrees of cleanability are required such as:

1. The appropriateness of stainless steel for a food preparation surface as opposed to the lack of need for stainless steel to be used for floors or for tables used for consumer dining; or

2. The need for a different degree of cleanability for a utilitarian attachment or accessory in the kitchen as opposed to a decorative attachment or accessory in the consumer dining area.

"Easily movable" means:

1. Portable; mounted on casters, gliders, or rollers; or provided with a mechanical means to safely tilt a unit of equipment for cleaning; and

2. Having no utility connection, a utility connection that disconnects quickly, or a flexible utility connection line of sufficient length to allow the equipment to be moved for cleaning of the equipment and adjacent area.

"Egg" means the shell egg of avian species such as chicken, duck, goose, guinea, quail, ratites, or turkey. Egg does not include a balut; egg of the reptile species such as alligator; or an egg product.

"Egg product" means all, or a portion of, the contents found inside eggs separated from the shell and pasteurized in a food processing plant, with or without added ingredients, intended for human consumption, such as dried, frozen, or liquid eggs. Egg product does not include food that contains eggs only in a relatively small proportion such as cake mixes.

"Employee" means the permit holder, person in charge, food employee, person having supervisory or management duties, person on the payroll, family member, volunteer, person performing work under contractual agreement, or other person working in a food establishment.

"EPA" means the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Equipment" means an article that is used in the operation of a food establishment. "Equipment" includes items such as a freezer, grinder, hood, ice maker, meat block, mixer, oven, reach-in refrigerator, scale, sink, slicer, stove, table, temperature measuring device for ambient air, vending machine, or warewashing machine. Equipment does not include apparatuses used for handling or storing large quantities of packaged foods that are received from a supplier in a cased or overwrapped lot, such as hand trucks, forklifts, dollies, pallets, racks, and skids.

"Exclude" means to prevent a person from working as an employee in a food establishment or entering a food establishment as an employee.

"FDA" means the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Fish" means fresh or saltwater finfish, crustaceans, and other forms of aquatic life (including alligator, frog, aquatic turtle, jellyfish, sea cucumber, and sea urchin and the roe of such animals) other than birds or mammals, and all mollusks, if such animal life is intended for human consumption and includes an edible human food product derived in whole or in part from fish, including fish that has been processed in any manner.

"Food" means (i) a raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption or (ii) chewing gum.

"Foodborne disease outbreak" means the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food.

"Food-contact surface" means a surface of equipment or a utensil with which food normally comes into contact, or a surface of equipment or a utensil from which food may drain, drip, or splash into a food, or onto a surface normally in contact with food.

"Food employee" means an individual working with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or food-contact surfaces.

"Food establishment" means an operation that (i) stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends food directly to the consumer, or otherwise provides food to the public for human consumption, such as a restaurant, satellite or catered feeding location, catering operation if the operation provides food directly to a consumer or to a conveyance used to transport people, market, vending location, conveyance used to transport people, institution, or food bank, and (ii) relinquishes possession of food to a consumer directly or indirectly through a delivery service, such as home delivery of grocery orders or restaurant takeout orders, or delivery service that is provided by common carriers.

"Food establishment" includes (i) an element of the operation such as a transportation vehicle or a central preparation facility that supplies a vending location or satellite feeding location unless the vending or feeding location is permitted under this chapter; and (ii) an operation that is conducted in 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 establishment" does not include:

1. An establishment that offers only prepackaged food that is not time/temperature control for safety food;

2. A produce stand that only offers whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables; or

3. A food processing plant, including those that are located on the premises of a food establishment.

"Food processing plant" means a commercial operation that manufactures, packages, labels, or stores food for human consumption and provides food for sale or distribution to other business entities such as food processing plants or food establishments. Food processing plant does not include a food establishment.

"Game animal" means an animal, the products of which are food, that is not classified as (i) livestock, sheep, swine, goat, horse, mule, or other equine in 9 CFR 301.2; (ii) poultry; or (iii) fish. "Game animal" includes mammals such as reindeer, elk, deer, antelope, water buffalo, bison, rabbit, squirrel, opossum, raccoon, nutria, or muskrat and nonaquatic reptiles such as land snakes. "Game animal" does not include ratites.

"General use pesticide" means a pesticide that is not classified by EPA for restricted use as specified in 40 CFR 152.175.

"Grade A standards" means the requirements of the Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, 2017 Revision (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), with which certain fluid and dry milk and milk products comply.

"Handwashing sink" means a lavatory, a basin or vessel for washing, a wash basin, or a plumbing fixture especially placed for use in personal hygiene and designed for the washing of hands. Handwashing sink includes an automatic handwashing facility.

"Hazard" means a biological, chemical, or physical property that may cause an unacceptable consumer health risk.

"Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point" or "HACCP plan" means a written document that delineates the formal procedures for following the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles developed by The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.

"Health practitioner" means a physician licensed to practice medicine, or if allowed by law, a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or similar medical professional.

"Hermetically sealed container" means a container that is designed and intended to be secure against the entry of microorganisms and, in the case of low acid canned foods, to maintain the commercial sterility of its contents after processing.

"Highly susceptible population" means persons who are more likely than other people in the general population to experience foodborne disease because they are:

1. Immunocompromised, preschool age children, or older adults; and

2. Obtaining food at a facility that provides services such as custodial care, health care, or assisted living, such as a child or adult day care center, kidney dialysis center, hospital or nursing home, or nutritional or socialization services such as a senior center.

"Imminent health hazard" means a significant threat or danger to health that is considered to exist when there is evidence sufficient to show that a product, practice, circumstance, or event creates a situation that requires immediate correction or cessation of operation to prevent injury based on the number of potential injuries, and the nature, severity, and duration of the anticipated injury.

"Injected" means manipulating meat to which a solution has been introduced into its interior by processes that are referred to as "injecting," "pump marinating," or "stitch pumping."

"Intact meat" means a cut of whole muscle meat that has not undergone comminution, injection, mechanical tenderization, or reconstruction.

"Juice" means the aqueous liquid expressed or extracted from one or more fruits or vegetables, purées of the edible portions of one or more fruits or vegetables, or any concentrate of such liquid or purée. Juice does not include, for purposes of HACCP, liquids, purées, or concentrates that are not used as beverages or ingredients of beverages.

"Kitchenware" means food preparation and storage utensils.

"Law" means applicable local, state, and federal statutes, regulations, and ordinances.

"Linens" means fabric items such as cloth hampers, cloth napkins, table cloths, wiping cloths, and work garments including cloth gloves.

"Major food allergen" means milk, egg, fish (such as bass, flounder, cod, and including crustacean shellfish such as crab, lobster, or shrimp), tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans; or a food ingredient that contains protein derived from one of these foods. Major food allergen does not include any highly refined oil derived from a major food allergen in this definition and any ingredient derived from such highly refined oil or any ingredient that is exempt under the petition or notification process specified in the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-282).

"Meat" means the flesh of animals used as food including the dressed flesh of cattle, swine, sheep, or goats and other edible animals, except fish, poultry, and wild game animals as specified under 12VAC5-421-330 A 2 and A 3.

"Mechanically tenderized" means manipulating meat with deep penetration by processes which may be referred to as "blade tenderizing," "jaccarding," "pinning," "needling," or using blades, pins, needles, or any mechanical device. "Mechanically tenderized" does not include processes by which solutions are injected into meat.

"mg/L" means milligrams per liter, which is the metric equivalent of parts per million (ppm).

"Mobile food unit" means a food establishment mounted on wheels (excluding boats in the water) readily moveable from place to place at all times during operation and shall include pushcarts, trailers, trucks, or vans. The unit, all operations, and all equipment must be integral to and be within or attached to the unit.

"Molluscan shellfish" means any edible species of fresh or frozen oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops or edible portions thereof, except when the scallop product consists only of the shucked adductor muscle.

"Noncontinuous cooking" means the cooking of food in a food establishment using a process in which the initial heating of the food is intentionally halted so that it may be cooled and held for complete cooking at a later time prior to sale or service. "Noncontinuous cooking" does not include cooking procedures that only involve temporarily interrupting or slowing an otherwise continuous cooking process.

"Occasional" means not more than one time per week, and not in excess of two days duration.

"Packaged" means bottled, canned, cartoned, bagged, or wrapped, whether packaged in a food establishment or a food processing plant. Packaged does not include wrapped or placed in a carry-out container to protect the food during service or delivery to the consumer, by a food employee, upon consumer request.

"Permit" means a license issued by the department that authorizes a person to operate a food establishment.

"Permit holder" means person that is legally responsible for the operation of the food establishment and possesses a valid permit to operate a food establishment.

"Person" means an association, a corporation, individual, partnership, other legal entity, government, or governmental subdivision or agency.

"Person in charge" means the individual present at a food establishment who is responsible for the operation at the time of inspection.

"Personal care items" means items or substances that may be poisonous, toxic, or a source of contamination and are used to maintain or enhance a person's health, hygiene, or appearance. Personal care items include items such as medicines; first aid supplies; and other items such as cosmetics, and toiletries such as toothpaste and mouthwash.

"pH" means the symbol for the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration, which is a measure of the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Values between 0 and 7 indicate acidity and values between 7 and 14 indicate alkalinity. The value for pure distilled water is 7, which is considered neutral.

"Physical facilities" means the structure and interior surfaces of a food establishment including accessories such as soap and towel dispensers and attachments such as light fixtures and heating or air conditioning system vents.

"Plumbing fixture" means a receptacle or device that is permanently or temporarily connected to the water distribution system of the premises and demands a supply of water from the system or discharges used water, waste materials, or sewage directly or indirectly to the drainage system of the premises.

"Plumbing system" means the water supply and distribution pipes; plumbing fixtures and traps; soil, waste, and vent pipes; sanitary and storm sewers and building drains, including their respective connections, devices, and appurtenances within the premises; and water-treating equipment.

"Poisonous or toxic materials" means substances that are not intended for ingestion and are included in four categories:

1. Cleaners and sanitizers, that include cleaning and sanitizing agents and agents such as caustics, acids, drying agents, polishes, and other chemicals;

2. Pesticides, except sanitizers, that include substances such as insecticides and rodenticides;

3. Substances necessary for the operation and maintenance of the establishment such as nonfood grade lubricants, paints, and personal care items that may be deleterious to health; and

4. Substances that are not necessary for the operation and maintenance of the establishment and are on the premises for retail sale, such as petroleum products and paints.

"Potable water" means water fit for human consumption that is obtained from an approved water supply and that is (i) sanitary and normally free of minerals, organic substances, and toxic agents in excess of reasonable amounts and (ii) adequate in quantity and quality for the minimum health requirements of the persons served (see Article 2 (§ 32.1-167 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 32.1 of the Code of Virginia). Potable water is traditionally known as drinking water and excludes such nonpotable forms as "boiler water, "mop water," "rainwater," "wastewater," and "nondrinking water."

"Poultry" means any domesticated bird (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, ratites, or squabs), whether live or dead, as defined in 9 CFR 381.1, and any migratory waterfowl, game bird, pheasant, partridge, quail, grouse, or pigeon whether live or dead, as defined in 9 CFR 362.1.

"Premises" means the physical facility, its contents, and the contiguous land or property under the control of the permit holder; or the physical facility, its contents, and the land or property which are under the control of the permit holder and may impact food establishment personnel, facilities, or operations, if a food establishment is only one component of a larger operation such as a health care facility, hotel, motel, school, recreational camp, or prison.

"Primal cut" means a basic major cut into which carcasses and sides of meat are separated, such as a beef round, pork loin, lamb flank, or veal breast.

"Priority foundation item" means a provision in this chapter whose application supports, facilitates, or enables one or more priority items. "Priority foundation item" includes an item that requires the purposeful incorporation of specific actions, equipment, or procedures by industry management to attain control of risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness or injury such as personnel training, infrastructure or necessary equipment, HACCP plans, documentation or record keeping, and labeling and is denoted in this regulation with a superscript Pf-Pf.

"Priority item" means a provision in this chapter whose application contributes directly to the elimination, prevention or reduction to an acceptable level , hazards associated with foodborne illness or injury and there is no other provision that more directly controls the hazard. "Priority item" includes items with a quantifiable measure to show control of hazards such as cooking, reheating, cooling, and handwashing and is denoted in this chapter with a superscript P-p.

"Private well" means any water well constructed for a person on land that is owned or leased by that person and is usually intended for household, groundwater source heat pump, agricultural use, industrial use, or other nonpublic water well.

"Pure water" means potable water fit for human consumption that is (i) sanitary and normally free of minerals, organic substances, and toxic agents in excess of reasonable amounts and (ii) adequate in quantity and quality for the minimum health requirements of the persons served (see §§ 32.1-167 and 32.1-176.1 of the Code of Virginia and 12VAC5-590, Waterworks Regulations and 12VAC5-630, Private Well Regulations. Potable water is traditionally known as drinking water, and excludes such nonpotable forms as "boiler water," "mop water," "rainwater," "wastewater," and "nondrinking water."

"Ratite" means a flightless bird such as an emu, ostrich, or rhea.

"Ready-to-eat food" means food that:

1. Is in a form that is edible without additional preparation to achieve food safety, as specified under 12VAC5-421-700 A, B, and C, 12VAC5-421-710 or 12VAC5-421-730;

2. Is a raw or partially cooked animal food and the consumer is advised as specified under 12VAC5-421- 700 D 1 and 3; or

3. Is prepared in accordance with a variance that is granted as specified under 12VAC5-421-700 D 4.

"Ready-to-eat food" may receive additional preparation for palatability or aesthetic, epicurean, gastronomic, or culinary purposes.

"Ready-to-eat food" includes:

1. Raw animal food that is cooked as specified under 12VAC5-421-700, or 12VAC5-421-710 or frozen as specified under 12VAC5-421-730;

2. Raw fruits and vegetables that are washed as specified under 12VAC5-421-510;

3. Fruits and vegetables that are cooked for hot holding as specified under 12VAC5-421-720;

4. All time/temperature control for safety food that is cooked to the temperature and time required for the specific food under Article 4 (12VAC5-421-700 et seq.) of Part III and cooled as specified in 12VAC5-421-800;

5. Plant food for which further washing, cooking, or other processing is not required for food safety, and from which rinds, peels, husks, or shells, if naturally present, are removed;

6. Substances derived from plants such as spices, seasonings, and sugar;

7. A bakery item such as bread, cakes, pies, fillings, or icing for which further cooking is not required for food safety;

8. The following products that are produced in accordance with USDA guidelines and that have received a lethality treatment for pathogens: dry, fermented sausages, such as dry salami or pepperoni; salt-cured meat and poultry products, such as prosciutto ham, country cured ham, and Parma ham; and dried meat and poultry products, such as jerky or beef sticks; and

9. Food manufactured as specified in 21 CFR Part 113.

"Reduced oxygen packaging" means the reduction of the amount of oxygen in a package by removing oxygen; displacing oxygen and replacing it with another gas or combination of gases; or otherwise controlling the oxygen content to a level below that normally found in the atmosphere (approximately 21% at sea level); and a process as specified in this definition that involves a food for which the hazards Clostridium botulinum or Listeria monocytogenes require control in the final packaged form. Reduced oxygen packaging includes:

1. Vacuum packaging, in which air is removed from a package of food and the package is hermetically sealed so that a vacuum remains inside the package;

2. Modified atmosphere packaging, in which the atmosphere of a package of food is modified so that its composition is different from air, but the atmosphere may change over time due to the permeability of the packaging material or the respiration of the food. Modified atmosphere packaging includes reduction in the proportion of oxygen, total replacement of oxygen, or an increase in the proportion of other gases such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen;

3. Controlled atmosphere packaging, in which the atmosphere of a package of food is modified so that until the package is opened, its composition is different from air, and continuous control of that atmosphere is maintained, such as by using oxygen scavengers or a combination of total replacement of oxygen, nonrespiring food, and impermeable packaging material;

4. Cook chill packaging, in which cooked food is hot filled into impermeable bags that have the air expelled and are then sealed or crimped closed. The bagged food is rapidly chilled and refrigerated at temperatures that inhibit the growth of psychotrophic pathogens; or

5. Sous vide packaging, in which raw or partially cooked food is vacuum packaged in an impermeable bag, cooked in the bag, rapidly chilled, and refrigerated at temperatures that inhibit the growth of psychotropic pathogens.

"Refuse" means solid waste not carried by water through a sewage system.

"Regulatory authority" means the local, state, or federal enforcement body or authorized representative having jurisdiction over the food establishment.

"Reminder" means a written statement concerning the health risk of consuming animal foods raw, undercooked, or without otherwise being processed to eliminate pathogens.

"Re-service" means the transfer of food that is unused and returned by a consumer after being served or sold and in the possession of the consumer, to another person.

"Restrict" means to limit the activities of a food employee so that there is no risk of transmitting a disease that is transmissible through food and the food employee does not work with exposed food, clean equipment, utensils, linens, or unwrapped single-service or single-use articles.

"Restricted egg" means any check, dirty egg, incubator reject, inedible, leaker, or loss as defined in 9 CFR Part 590.

"Restricted use pesticide" means a pesticide product that contains the active ingredients specified in 40 CFR 152.175 and that is limited to use by or under the direct supervision of a certified applicator.

"Risk" means the likelihood that an adverse health effect will occur within a population as a result of a hazard in a food.

"Safe material" means an article manufactured from or composed of materials that may not reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly, in their becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food; an additive that is used as specified in § 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 USC § 348); or other materials that are not additives and that are used in conformity with applicable regulations of the FDA.

"Sanitization" means the application of cumulative heat or chemicals on cleaned food-contact surfaces that, when evaluated for efficacy, is sufficient to yield a reduction of five logs, which is equal to a 99.999% reduction, of representative disease microorganisms of public health importance.

"Sealed" means free of cracks or other openings that allow the entry or passage of moisture.

"Service animal" means an animal such as a guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.

"Servicing area" means an operating base location to which a mobile food establishment or transportation vehicle returns regularly for such things as vehicle and equipment cleaning, discharging liquid or solid wastes, refilling water tanks and ice bins, and boarding food.

"Sewage" means liquid waste containing animal or vegetable matter in suspension or solution and may include liquids containing chemicals in solution. Sewage includes water-carried and non-water-carried human excrement or kitchen, laundry, shower, bath, or lavatory waste separately or together with such underground surface, storm, or other water and liquid industrial wastes as may be present from residences, buildings, vehicles, industrial establishments, or other places.

"Shellfish control authority" means a state, federal, foreign, tribal or other government entity legally responsible for administering a program that includes certification of molluscan shellfish harvesters and dealers for interstate commerce such as the Virginia Department of Health Division of Shellfish Sanitation.

"Shellstock" means raw, in-shell molluscan shellfish.

"Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli" or "STEC" means any E. coli capable of producing Shiga toxins (also called verocytotoxins). STEC infections can be asymptomatic or may result in a spectrum of illness ranging from mild nonbloody diarrhea to hemorrhagic colitis (i.e., bloody diarrhea) to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. Examples of serotypes of STEC include E. coli 0157:H7, E. coli 0157:NM, E. coli 026:H11; E. Coli 0145:NM, E. coli 0103:H2, and E. coli 0111:NM. STEC are sometimes referred to as VTEC (verocytotoxigenic E. coli) or as EHEC (Enterohemorrhagic E. coli). EHEC are a subset of STEC that can cause hemorrhagic colitis or HUS.

"Shucked shellfish" means molluscan shellfish that have one or both shells removed.

"Single-service articles" means tableware, carry-out utensils, and other items such as bags, containers, placemats, stirrers, straws, toothpicks, and wrappers that are designed and constructed for one time, one person use after which they are intended for discard.

"Single-use articles" means utensils and bulk food containers designed and constructed to be used once and discarded. Single-use articles includes items such as wax paper, butcher paper, plastic wrap, formed aluminum food containers, jars, plastic tubs or buckets, bread wrappers, pickle barrels, ketchup bottles, and number 10 cans that do not meet the materials, durability, strength, and cleanability specifications contained in 12VAC5-421-960, 12VAC5-421-1080, and 12VAC5-421-1100 for multiuse utensils.

"Slacking" means the process of moderating the temperature of a food such as allowing a food to gradually increase from a temperature of -10°F (-23°C) to 25°F (-4°C) in preparation for deep-fat frying or to facilitate even heat penetration during the cooking of previously block-frozen food such as shrimp.

"Smooth" means a food-contact surface having a surface free of pits and inclusions with a cleanability equal to or exceeding that of (100 grit) number three stainless steel; a non-food-contact surface of equipment having a surface equal to that of commercial grade hot-rolled steel free of visible scale; and a floor, wall, or ceiling having an even or level surface with no roughness or projections that render it difficult to clean.

"Substantial compliance" means equipment or structure design or construction; food preparation, handling, storage, transportation; or cleaning procedures that will not substantially affect health consideration or performance of the facility or the employees.

"Tableware" means eating, drinking, and serving utensils for table use such as flatware including forks, knives, and spoons; hollowware including bowls, cups, serving dishes, tumblers; and plates.

"Temperature measuring device" means a thermometer, thermocouple, thermistor, or other device that indicates the temperature of food, air, or water.

"Temporary food establishment" means a food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration.

"Time/temperature control for safety food" or "TCS food" means a food that requires time/temperature control for safety to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation:

1. TCS food includes an animal food that is raw or heat treated; a plant food that is heat treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes, or mixtures of cut tomatoes that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation, or garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation; and except as specified in subdivision 2 d of this definition, a food that because of the interaction of its Aw and pH values is designated as product assessment required (PA) in Table A or B of this definition:

Table A. Interaction of pH and Aw for control of spores in food heat treated to destroy vegetative cells and subsequently packaged.

Aw values

pH values

4.6 or less

>4.6 - 5.6



non-TCS food*

non-TCS food

non-TCS food

>0.92 - 0.95

non-TCS food

non-TCS food



non-TCS food



*TCS food means time/temperature control for safety food

**PA means product assessment required

Table B. Interaction of pH and Aw for control of vegetative cells and spores in food not heat treated or heat treated but not packaged.

Aw values

pH values

< 4.2

4.2 - 4.6

> 4.6 - 5.0

> 5.0


non-TCS food*

non-TCS food

non-TCS food

non-TCS food

0.88 - 0.90

non-TCS food

non-TCS food

non-TCS food


>0.90 - 0.92

non-TCS food

non-TCS food




non-TCS food




*TCS food means time/temperature control for safety food

**PA means product assessment required

2. TCS food does not include:

a. An air-cooled hard-boiled egg with shell intact, or an egg with shell intact that is not hard-boiled, but has been pasteurized to destroy all viable salmonellae;

b. A food in an unopened hermetically sealed container that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility under conditions of nonrefrigerated storage and distribution;

c. A food that because of its pH or Aw value, or interaction of Aw and pH values, is designated as a non-TCS food in Table A or B of this definition;

d. A food that is designated as PA in Table A or B of this definition and has undergone a product assessment showing that the growth or toxin formation of pathogenic microorganisms that are reasonably likely to occur in that food is precluded due to:

(1) Intrinsic factors including added or natural characteristics of the food such as preservatives, antimicrobials, humectants, acidulants, or nutrients;

(2) Extrinsic factors including environmental or operational factors that affect the food such as packaging, modified atmosphere such as reduced oxygen packaging, shelf-life and use, or temperature range of storage and use; or

(3) A combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors; or

e. A food that does not support the growth or toxin formation of pathogenic microorganisms in accordance with one of the subdivisions 2 a through 2 d of this definition even though the food may contain a pathogenic microorganism or chemical or physical contaminant at a level sufficient to cause illness or injury.

"USDA" means the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Utensil" means a food-contact implement or container used in the storage, preparation, transportation, dispensing, sale, or service of food, such as kitchenware or tableware that is multiuse, single service, or single use; gloves used in contact with food; temperature sensing probes of food temperature measuring devices and probe-type price or identification tags used in contact with food.

"Variance" means a written document issued by the department that authorizes a modification or waiver of one or more requirements of this chapter if, in the opinion of the department, a health hazard or nuisance will not result from the modification or waiver.

"Vending machine" means a self-service device that, upon insertion of a coin, paper currency, token, card, key, electronic transaction, or by optional manual operation, dispenses unit servings of food in bulk or in packages without the necessity of replenishing the device between each vending operation.

"Vending machine location" means the room, enclosure, space, or area where one or more vending machines are installed and operated and includes the storage areas and areas on the premises that are used to service and maintain the vending machines.

"Warewashing" means the cleaning and sanitizing of utensils and food-contact surfaces of equipment.

"Waterworks" means a system that serves piped water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections or 25 or more individuals for at least 60 days out of the year. "Waterworks" includes all structures, equipment and appurtenances used in the storage, collection, purification, treatment, and distribution of pure water except the piping and fixtures inside the building where such water is delivered (see Article 2 (§ 32.1-167 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 32.1 of the Code of Virginia).

"Whole-muscle, intact beef" means whole muscle beef that is not injected, mechanically tenderized, reconstructed, or scored and marinated, from which beef steaks may be cut.

Statutory Authority

§§ 35.1-11 and 35.1-14 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 18, Issue 10, eff. March 1, 2002; amended, Virginia Register Volume 24, Issue 2, eff. October 16, 2007; Volume 26, Issue 7, eff. January 1, 2010; Volume 32, Issue 22, eff. July 12, 2016; Volume 35, Issue 1, eff. October 3, 2018; Volume 37, Issue 18, eff. June 10, 2021.

12VAC5-421-20. [Reserved]. (Reserved)

12VAC5-421-30. Purpose.

This chapter has been promulgated by the board to specify the following requirements to protect public health:

1. A procedure for obtaining a license (permit);

2. Criteria for assuring the safe preparation, handling, protection and/or temperature control for food;

3. Criteria for the safe and sanitary maintenance, storage, operation and use of equipment;

4. Requirements that food establishments utilize an approved water supply and sewage disposal system;

5. Requirements for toilet and cleansing facilities for employees ;

6. Criteria for vector and pest control;

7. Requirements for the sanitary maintenance and use of food establishment's physical plant;

8. Requirements for appropriate lighting and ventilation not otherwise provided for in the Uniform Statewide Building Code; and

9. A classification system for food establishments.

Statutory Authority

§§ 35.1-11 and 35.1-14 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 18, Issue 10, eff. March 1, 2002; amended, Virginia Register Volume 37, Issue 18, eff. June 10, 2021.

12VAC5-421-40. Administration of regulation.

This chapter is administered by the following:

1. The board has responsibility to promulgate, amend and repeal regulations necessary to protect the public health.

2. The commissioner is the chief executive officer of the department. The commissioner has the authority to act within the scope of regulations promulgated by the board and for the board when it is not in session.

3. The director is responsible for the permitting and inspection of food establishments located within the director's district and for assuring compliance with this chapter.

Statutory Authority

§§ 35.1-11 and 35.1-14 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 18, Issue 10, eff. March 1, 2002; amended, Virginia Register Volume 37, Issue 18, eff. June 10, 2021.

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