FTag of the Month: Personal Food Policy

June 12, 2023
June 28, 2023
Polaris Group
June 28, 2023

Facilities need to focus on the safety of outside food brought into the facility by visitors.

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In the last 2 years, facilities might not have given much consideration to resident personal food due to COVID-19 visitation restrictions. But now with the conclusion of the public health emergency, pre-COVID visitation policies (and food brought in for residents) are back in full swing at most facilities. Subsequently, facilities need to revisit their personal food policies to avoid a citation of FTag 813.

What is F 813?

F813 requires facilities have a policy in place for use and storage of foods that are brought into residents by their families and other visitors to ensure safe and sanitary storage, handling, and consumption of these items. This policy is critical to ensure safety of residents and to avoid food-borne illnesses.

Ensuring compliance with F813

To avoid a FTag 813 citation, facilities should have policies and specific actions targeted for both residents and their families, as well as staff.

Resident and family-focused policies and actions:
  1. Upon admission, make sure that the facility’s personal food policy is explained to each resident and their family members. Be sure to include the food policy in the resident admission packets. Key Compliance Tip: Surveyors will interview residents and their family members to verify that they were given the facility’s personal food policy and if safe food handling practices were explained.
Staff-focused policies and actions:
  1. Explain the facility’s personal food policy to staff. Provide training and educational updates annually to review food storage practices. Key Compliance Tip: Make sure that staff sign in for training sessions to provide documentation of training and attendance.
  2. Educate all staff regarding re-heating of foods brought in from another source.  Ensure thermometers and cleansing wipes are available and stored in covered containers near microwaves. Key Compliance Tip:  Place laminated sheets with required heating temperatures per food item (i.e. pork, chicken) at each microwave station.
  3. Create a schedule for routine thermometer calibration of thermometers by dietary staff routinely.  Inspect refrigerators weekly, discarding outdated and unlabeled items.  Key Compliance Tip: Keep a log of all calibrations and refrigerator inspections for surveyors’ review. Perform random spot checks to ensure the facility’s monitoring system is effective.
  4. Provide refrigerators for resident use only and have a separate staff refrigerator. Key Compliance Tip: Clearly label refrigerators so staff do not place any personal lunches or snacks in resident refrigerators.

While the focus on food safety often is directed at the dietary staff and meal preparation, facilities need to also consider the safety and handling of food brought in by families. If your facility’s personal food policy could be improved, contact Polaris Group consultants for assistance.

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