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Frequently Asked Questions About the DC Food Code

January 1, 2013

Source: The District of Columbia Department of Health

The District of Columbia Department of Health has revised its food safety regulations by adopting the 1999 federal Food Code, with amendments that are specific to the District of Columbia. The adoption of the federal Food Code is the core of the regulations.  The following questions and answers are intended to help businesses comply with these regulations.

What is the federal Food Code?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes the federal Food Code, a document of food sanitation regulations for retail outlets, and institutions (i.e., restaurants, grocery stores, institutions, nursing homes, etc.).

The FDA federal Food Code refines food safety regulations, while striving to achieve national uniformity. The federal Food Code reflects the most current science and offers the best strategies to ensure a safe food supply in the United States.

What do businesses have to do to comply with the District's Food Code?

The Food Code went into effect on June 6, 2003. 

  • Food establishments that apply for a new food license after September 6, 2003 must fully comply with the Food Code. 
  • Existing businesses (those which obtained food licenses before September 6, 2003) will have a grace period to comply with some requirements in the Food Code. During this grace period, the Department plans to work closely with existing businesses to familiarize them with the Food Code; however, imminent health hazards, such as fire, flood, extended interruption of electrical or water service, sewage backup, misuse of poisonous or toxic materials, onset of an apparent foodborne illness outbreak, gross insanitary occurrence or condition or other circumstance that may endanger the public health, such as rodent infestation, will still result in closures.

This chart identifies some of the new requirements and when existing businesses must comply.