WSR 99-13-019



[ Filed June 7, 1999, 10:02 a.m. ]

Date of Adoption: May 12 [17], 1999.

Purpose: The purpose of amending the food workers permit chapter is to incorporate recent legislative changes, complete development of rules as directed by the legislature, incorporate advisory committee recommendations, standardize the process to improve food worker training, and reduce ambiguity regarding the process.

Citation of Existing Rules Affected by this Order: Repealing WAC 246-217-001, 246-217-002, 246-217-011, 246-217-020, 246-217-030, 246-217-040, and 246-217-050; and amending WAC 246-217-010, 246-217-060, and 246-217-070.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 43.20.050.

Adopted under notice filed as WSR 99-08-097 on April 6, 1999.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 5, Amended 1, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 3, Amended 1, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's Own Initiative: New 0, Amended 1, Repealed 1.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 0, Amended 2, Repealed 6.

Number of Sections Adopted Using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0. Effective Date of Rule: Thirty-one days after filing.

June 7, 1999

Jim Robertson

Interim Executive Director


Chapter 246-217 WAC


WAC 246-217-005
Purpose and authority.

The purpose of chapter 246-217 WAC is to establish state board of health standards for the issuance of food worker cards (food worker permits) under chapter 69.06 RCW and RCW 43.20.050. To promote and protect the health, safety and well-being of the public and prevent the spread of disease by food, all food service workers in the state shall demonstrate through the process of examination that they possess an adequate knowledge of the principles and practices involved in the safe preparation, storage, and service of foods.


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Order 124B, filed 12/27/90, effective 1/31/91)

WAC 246-217-010

As used in this chapter of the rules and regulations, the following definitions ((shall)) apply:

(1) ((A "food service worker" shall mean a person engaged in a food and/or beverage establishment and who may contribute to the transmission of infectious diseases through the nature of his contact with food products and/or equipment and facilities.  This shall not include persons engaged in food handling operations where the products are sterilized after packaging or in the processing of frozen fruits or vegetables, nor nonsupervisory personnel assisting with food services functions of churches, lodges, granges and similar organizations when such are exempted from collected retail sales tax by rule 169 of the tax commission of the state of Washington as effective May 1, 1935.

(2) The term "food establishment" shall include, but is not limited to, all food handling operations associated with school lunches, carnivals, circuses, intrastate ferries, state institutions, bakeries, shellfish processing plants, caterers, hospitals, nursing homes, maternity homes, boarding homes, child care agencies, churches, lodges, granges, clubs, and food demonstrations.)) "Additional food safety training" means completion of a comprehensive training program on food safety of at least four hours in length. Training may include topics such as: Proper cooking, hot-holding, cold-holding and cooling of potentially hazardous foods; cross-contamination prevention; HACCP and/or proper hand washing techniques. Approval of training programs shall be obtained from jurisdictional health departments or the department by the training provider. Approval of training programs must be obtained in advance.

(2) "Applicant" means an individual applying to obtain an initial or renewal food worker card.

(3) "Department" means the Washington state department of health.

(4) "Food service establishment" means:

(a) A place, location, operation, site, or facility where food is manufactured, prepared, processed, packaged, dispensed, distributed, sold, served, or offered to the consumer regardless of whether or not compensation for food occurs, including but not limited to:

(i) Restaurants, snack bars, cafeterias, taverns, bars;

(ii) Retail food stores, supermarkets, retail meat markets, retail fish markets, retail bakeries, delicatessens;

(iii) Institutional operations licensed by the department, the state department of social and health services or local health officer, such as schools, hospitals, jails, prisons, nursing homes, boarding homes, adult family homes and child care facilities;

(iv) Central preparation sites, including caterers;

(v) Satellite servicing locations;

(vi) Temporary food service establishments or mobile food units;

(vii) Bed and breakfast operations;

(viii) Remote feeding sites; and

(ix) Vending machines dispensing potentially hazardous foods.

(b) This term does not include:

(i) Private homes where food is prepared or served for consumption by household members and/or their guests;

(ii) Establishments offering only commercially prepackaged nonpotentially hazardous foods;

(iii) Commercial food processing establishments, licensed and regulated by the USDA, FDA, or WSDA; and

(iv) Farmers exempt from licensure under RCW 36.71.090.

(5) "Food service worker" means an individual who works (or intends to work) with or without pay in a food service establishment and handles unwrapped or unpackaged food or who may contribute to the transmission of infectious diseases through the nature of his/her contact with food products and/or equipment and facilities. This does not include persons who simply assist residents or patients in institutional facilities with meals, or students in K-12 schools who periodically assist with school meal service.

(6) "Food worker card" means a food and beverage service workers' permit as required under chapter 69.06 RCW.

(7) "Health officer" means the county, city-county, or district health officer of a jurisdictional health department, or his/her authorized representative, or the representative of the department.

(8) "Jurisdictional health department" refers to one of the following:

(a) Local health district as defined in chapter 70.46 RCW.

(b) City-county health department as defined in chapter 70.08 RCW.

(c) County health department as defined in chapter 70.05 RCW.

(9) "Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity or agency of state, county, or municipal government, or agency of the federal government which is subject to the jurisdiction of the state.

(10) "Secretary" means the secretary of the state department of health.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.20.050.  91-02-051 (Order 124B), recodified as 246-217-010, filed 12/27/90, effective 1/31/91; Regulation .87.002, effective 3/11/60.]

WAC 246-217-015

(1) All food service workers must obtain a food worker card within fourteen calendar days from the beginning of employment at a food service establishment.

(2) In the case of temporary food service establishments, at a minimum the operator or person in charge each shift or during hours of operation shall have a valid food worker card obtained prior to the event.

(3) Employers at any food service establishment (permanent or temporary) must provide information or training regarding pertinent safe food handling practices to food service workers prior to beginning food handling duties if the worker does not hold a valid food worker card. Documentation that the information or training has been provided to the individual must be kept on file by the employer and be available for inspection by the health officer at all times.


WAC 246-217-025
Issuance of food worker cards--Fees.

(1) In order to qualify for issuance of an initial or renewal food worker card, an applicant must demonstrate his/her knowledge of safe food handling practices by satisfactorily completing an examination conducted by the local health officer or designee.

(2) Each applicant for a food worker card must pay a fee in the amount of eight dollars. The fee shall be used by the jurisdictional health department or designee to defray the costs of food worker training and education, administration of the program, and testing of applicants. Photographic identification may be required at the time of application.

(3) The local health officer or designee shall furnish to the applicant a copy of the latest edition of the "Food and Beverage Service Workers' Manual" or similar publication, as prepared or approved by the department.

(4) Effective January 1, 2000, prior to conducting the examination of the applicant(s), the health officer (or designee) shall provide at least thirty minutes of instruction, including both audio and visual presentations. Instruction content shall include topics related to safe food preparation, storage and service. At a minimum, topics shall include: Food borne illness overview; basic bacteriology as it relates to food borne illness; proper cooking, hot holding, cold holding and cooling of potentially hazardous foods; cross-contamination prevention; and proper hand washing techniques.

(5) The food worker card examination will be uniform state-wide and will be prepared by and/or approved by the department; except that jurisdictional health departments may include additional questions to address local health concerns. The examination will cover topics identified in subsection (4) of this section, as required instruction topics. An exam must be approved by the department prior to its use. To pass the examination the applicant must answer at least eighty percent of the questions correctly.

(6) Upon payment of the required fee and the applicant's satisfactory completion of the examination, the applicant will receive the food worker card.

(7) A copy of the card or the applicable information shall be kept on file at the jurisdictional health department.

(8) Copies of food worker cards for all employed food service workers shall be kept on file by the employer or kept by the employee on his or her person and open for inspection at all times by authorized public health officials.

(9) All food worker cards shall be issued and signed by the local health officer. The local health officer may contract with persons to provide the required training or testing within his/her jurisdiction. The contracts shall include test security provisions so that test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data are exempt from public disclosure to the same extent as records maintained by state or local government agencies.

(10) The health officer or designee shall make test accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for those requesting such accommodations.


WAC 246-217-035
Validity and form of food worker cards.

(1) All initial cards are valid for two years from the date of issuance.

(2) Effective July 1, 1999, renewal cards are valid for three years from the date of issuance; except: An applicant may be granted a renewal card valid for five years from the date of issuance if the applicant documents that he/she has attended "additional food safety training" within the past two years.

(3) Any legally issued food worker card shall be valid throughout Washington state.

(4) Food service workers may apply for a renewal of a food worker card up to sixty days before the expiration date on their current valid card. Proof of a valid card must be shown at the time of renewal application.

(5) The card shall be approximately three inches by five inches in size and contain the following information:

(a) The identification of the card as a Washington state food worker card or "limited duty card," as applicable;

(b) The identity of the jurisdictional health department issuing the card;

(c) Printed (or typed written) name and signature of the food service worker;

(d) Card expiration date;

(e) Signature of the health officer; and

(f) Any other identifier or other information deemed necessary by the health officer.


WAC 246-217-045
Limited duty food worker cards.

The local health officer may issue a limited duty card when necessary to reasonably accommodate a person with a disability.

(1) A person applying to obtain a limited duty card shall communicate to the local health officer which low public health risk activity(ies) (e.g., dishwashing, bussing tables, filling condiment containers, etc.) he or she will be performing.

(2) The health officer may require the applicant to attend the food safety training associated with the issuance of food worker cards. No written examination is required for the issuance of limited duty cards.

(3) The local health officer shall list the approved activity(ies) on the food worker card.

(4) The fee and length of validity of limited duty cards is the same as all other food worker cards.

(5) The employer should ensure that the individual is provided with information to safely perform the activity(ies) listed on the card.


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Order 124B, filed 12/27/90, effective 1/31/91)

WAC 246-217-060
Revocation of ((permit)) food worker card.

The food ((and beverage service)) worker((s' permit)) card may be revoked by the local health officer, or by the ((director)) secretary, upon evidence indicating repeated or continuing violations of accepted procedures and practices in the preparation, service, or storage of food ((or beverage)) offered for public consumption, or upon demonstration of the presence of a communicable disease in the infectious state, or an infectious condition of potential hazard to the public or to the persons' co-workers, or for falsification of information required for issuance of the ((permit)) card. Any food service worker who has had his/her card revoked shall be ineligible for issuance of another card by any local health officer in the state until the conditions for revocation are appropriately resolved.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.20.050.  91-02-051 (Order 124B), recodified as 246-217-060, filed 12/27/90, effective 1/31/91; Regulation .86.050, effective 3/11/60.]

AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Order 124B, filed 12/27/90, effective 1/31/91)

WAC 246-217-070
Right of appeal.

Any food ((or beverage)) service worker whose ((permit)) food worker card has been revoked by a local health officer, or the ((director)) secretary, may appeal to the local board of health, or the ((state board of health)) department's office of professional standards consistent with chapter 246-10 WAC in the event such revocation is by the ((director)) secretary, for review of the findings.  ((Such)) The appeal must be in writing and must be filed with the appropriate board ((of health)) or office within ten days of revocation of the ((worker's permit)) card.  While ((such)) the appeal is pending, the revocation of the ((worker's permit)) card shall be stayed until such time as the appropriate board ((of health)) or office has reviewed the findings and entered its decision.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.20.050.  91-02-051 (Order 124B), recodified as 246-217-070, filed 12/27/90, effective 1/31/91; Regulation .86.060, effective 3/11/60.]


     The following sections of the Washington Administrative Code are repealed:
WAC 246-217-001 Objective.
WAC 246-217-002 Legal authority of the state board of health.
WAC 246-217-011 Definitions.
WAC 246-217-020 Communicable disease.
WAC 246-217-030 Form of permits--Fees.
WAC 246-217-040 Requirements for permits.
WAC 246-217-050 Examination may be required.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office