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Oversight and Training of Dining Services in Assisted Living

Featuring Dawn Nickleson, Passion for Dining and Nutrition, and Jennifer Anderson, EduCare

As you begin to navigate dining and culinary services requirements in the assisted living regulation, it is essential to recognize that both the Minnesota Assisted Living License Rules and the Food Code play a role in oversight, training, and compliance.

As a condition of the new assisted living license, food must be prepared and served according to the Minnesota Food Code, and that training and competency for personnel must include:

  • Basic nutrition, meal preparation, food safety, and assistance with eating; and
  • Preparation of modified diets as ordered by a licensed health professional.

So, how does the Food Code play a role in Assisted Living?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes the Food Code and updates it every four years. States and other regulators use the FDA Food Code as a model to develop and update their own food safety rules.

The Minnesota (MN) Food Code, Minnesota Rules Chapter 4626, regulates licensed food establishments in Minnesota and is jointly administered by the Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). These rules create the standard by which food establishments must comply in the handling, storing, preparation and service of food to the consumer. The FDA Food Code provides the basis for the rules in Minnesota so that they are consistent with national food safety standards.

The MN Food Code lists two primary requirements related to oversight that will affect Assisted Living Providers:

  1. Certified Food Protection Manager; and
  2. Person in Charge.

Certified Food Protection Manager
The MN Food Code requires that all food establishments employ at least one Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) and display a current CFPM certificate. Below is the list of CFPM requirements:

  • Complete a food safety training course and pass an MDH approved exam (like ServSafe®);
  • Complete the MN CFPM application which requires exam results and fee;
  • Certification renewal is required every three years; and
  • Renewal requires proof of four hours of approved continuing education and fee.

Food protection managers play a vital role in the food establishment. They are responsible for food safety policies, ensuring employees follow established policies, and communicating with employees the recommended practices to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Person in Charge
The food establishment must also designate a single Person in Charge (PIC) for all hours of foodservice operation. The PIC does not need to be certified as a Food Manager but must demonstrate knowledge of foodborne illness prevention and ensure safe food handling practices. Foodservice staff will report to the PIC if the CFPM is off-site. Examples could be a cook, on-duty nurse or lead caregiver. Key areas of understanding for the PIC include:

  • Employee illness reporting and restrictions;
  • Personal hygiene and handwashing;
  • Preventing bare hand contact;
  • Proper time and temperature controls for safe food;
  • Controlling cross-contamination; and
  • High-risk population.

The MN Food Code does not specify training requirements for the PIC. The person in charge may attend formal food safety training or maintain competency through ongoing job training. The CFPM will monitor this training.

Training and competency of personnel
The training and competency requirements as listed by the AL Rules are also not specified by the MN Food Code, but the code does set the standard for food establishment operations. The training must be provided by a trainer who has knowledge and work experience in basic nutrition, food preparation, sanitation and food safety, assistance with eating, and preparation of modified textures. The CFPM must also oversee the training.

EduCare and Culinary4U are training resources that include competency tracking. For more information, contact Jennifer Anderson at jmamirabelle@msn.com or 952-288-3800.

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Previous Assisted Living Bill of Rights and the continuing right to Electronic Monitoring

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