The purpose of this interpretation is to clarify Minnesota Rule 4626.0340 (3-401.11C) of the Minnesota Food Code with respect to the service of raw and undercooked animal foods, specifically the part that states "at the request of the consumer or the regulatory authority grants a variance . . . based on a HACCP plan."
First and foremost, Minnesota Rule 4626.0340 (3-401.11A) requires that all raw animal foods be cooked. Minnesota Rule 4626.0340 (3-401.11C) addresses the exceptions to this rule: 1) at the request of the consumer, or 2) with a variance and HACCP plan. Minnesota Rule 4626.0430 (3-601.12) states "food shall be offered for human consumption in a way that does not mislead or misinform the consumer." Minnesota Rule 4626.1695 contains the criteria for granting variances.
The Minnesota Food Code specifies two alternatives for the service of raw or undercooked animal products: at the request of the consumer or with a variance based on a HACCP plan. (Exception: The FDA 1999 Food Code (3-401.11 A2c) allows for whole-muscle intact beef steaks to be undercooked if the steak is cooked on both the top and bottom to a surface temperature of 145°F (63°C) or above and a cooked color change is achieved on all external surfaces, and the steak is obtained from a food processing plant with a label to indicate that the beef meets the definition of whole-muscle, intact beef.)
"At the request of the consumer." The Minnesota Food Code states that raw or undercooked animal foods may be served or offered for sale in a ready-to-eat form at the request of the consumer. "At the request of the consumer" is interpreted to mean that: 1) the request must be active (the consumer must make a verbal request); and 2) the consumer must be informed about the increased risk of eating raw or undercooked foods. MDA and MDH feel that informed consumers are best able to assess their individual understanding or pertinent information. Furthermore, Minnesota Rule 4626.0430 (3-601.12) states that food shall be offered for human consumption in a way that does not mislead or misinform the consumer. Therefore, the operator must identify the raw or undercooked animal foods being offered, and at the request of the consumer provide consumer information regarding the risks associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked animal foods. The consumer information must be provided in a written format so that the consumer can make an informed decision.
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"Variance based on a HACCP plan." The other alternative for the service of raw or undercooked animal foods is with a variance based on a HACCP plan. Then variance must be consistent with Minnesota Rules 4626.1695. As long as the customer is fully informed that the food is served undercooked or raw, a variance and HACCP plan is not required.
The HACCP plan must be consistent with Minnesota Rules 4626.0340 (3-401.11C) which states that the plant shall:
This requirement applies to all foodservice and retail food establishments where raw or undercooked animal foods or ingredients are sold or served for human consumption in a raw or undercooked form. This includes all types of food establishments whenever there is a reasonable likelihood that the food will be consumed without subsequent, thorough cooking - such as restaurants, raw bars, quick service operations, carry-outs, and sites where groceries are obtained that have operations such as delicatessens or seafood departments.
Identification: of raw or undercooked animal foods on a menu in a foodservice operation may consist of: 1) a description of the food item using "raw" or "undercooked" on the menu description of the food item, or 2) an asterisk* identifying the food item with a footnote statement such as "These items are served raw or undercooked or contain raw or undercooked ingredients." The consumer must also be informed, on the menu, that additional information is available upon request. These notations can be provided by the use of adhesive stickers to designate "asterisk" items, reprinting new menus, or including a written description that could be separate but provided in conjunction with the menu, such as an insert. NOTE: "menu" means whatever consumers read (table tent, placard, chalk board, package, or other written means) to make order selections.
When a menu is not used, such as at a buffet, raw bar, self-service display case, or full-service deli, raw or undercooked animal products must be identified by the use of a sign or placard that states: 1) "this item may contain raw or undercooked animals products, AND 2) "additional information is available upon request." If raw or undercooked is indicated on the package or label of a food item (e.g. raw row) or as an ingredient, the placard or sign is not required.
Consumer Information: shall consist of written information, such as a brochure or fact sheet, regarding consuming raw or undercooked animal foods. The information contained in the brochure or fact sheet is to be available to the consumer upon request.
Sources of consumer information:
Product Specific Information: When a foodservice operation has a limited menu or offers only certain animal-derived foods in a raw or undercooked, ready-to-eat form, consumer information may be tailored to be product-specific. For example, a raw bar serving molluscan shellfish on the half shell, but no other raw or undercooked animal food, could elect to confine its consumer information to molluscan shellfish. Also, when the only raw read-to-eat food items sold are shucked molluscan shellfish or shellstock, the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference written brochure for raw oysters and clams could be made publicly available.
Ask about raw or undercooked eggs
Raw or rare meat
Raw or undercooked molluscan shellfish
Dairy & Food Inspection Division 651-201-6027
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), 625 Robert Street N, St. Paul, MN 55155-2538, email@example.com