Terms and Definitions

Regularly Used in Food Establishment Inspections and Reports

The following terms and their definitions are routinely used in the inspection of food establishments in Iowa.The terms and definitions listed below can be found in Iowa Code Chapter 137F (2005), the Department’s administrative rules [481 IAC 30], and the 1997 Food Code.Additional terms and their definitions can be found in the Food Code [1-201.10, Applicability and Terms Defined]. Note: Inspectors often use acronyms on report forms. Where appropriate, the commonly used acronym is listed with the respective term in the following definitions.

“Approved” means acceptable to the regulatory authority based on a determination of conformity with principles, practices, and generally recognized standards that protect public health.

“Approved food source” means a source of food that complies with the provisions of Iowa law and the Food Code. Approved food sources are those sources that are routinely and regularly inspected by a regulatory authority.

“Baked goods” means breads, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, buns, rolls, cookies, biscuits and pies (except meat pies).

“Certified food protection manager (CFPM)” means the operator or a manager (person in charge) of a (retail) food establishment who has been certified by an approved food protection certification examination.

“Commissary” means a food establishment used for preparing, fabricating, packaging and storage of food or food products for distribution and sale through the food establishment’s own outlets.

“Confirmed disease outbreak” means a foodborne disease outbreak in which laboratory analysis of appropriate specimens identifies a causative agent and epidemiological analysis implicates the food as the source of the illness.

“Consumer” means a person who is a member of the public, takes possession of food, is not functioning in the capacity of an operator or a food establishment or food processing plant, and does not offer the food for resale.

“Corrected on site (COS)” means the identified violation was corrected at the establishment while the inspector was present and documented as such.

“Critical control point” means a point or procedure in a specific food system where loss of control may result in an unacceptable health risk.

“Critical violation” means a provision of the Food Code that, if left uncorrected, is more likely than other violations to contribute to food contamination, illness, or environmental health hazard.

“Department” means the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, which, for purposes of the Food Code, is the state’s designated regulatory authority.

“Director” means the director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

“Egg handler” or “handler” means any person who engages in any business in commerce which involves buying or selling any eggs (as a poultry producer or otherwise), or processing any egg products, or otherwise using any eggs in the preparation of human food. An egg handler does not include a food establishment or home food establishment if either establishment obtains eggs from a licensed egg handler or supplier which meets standards referred to in rule 481—31.2(137F). Producers who sell eggs produced exclusively from their own flocks directly to egg handlers or to consumer customers are exempt from regulation as egg handlers.

“Employee” means the permit holder, person in charge, person having supervisory or management duties, person on the payroll, family member, volunteer, person performing work under contractual agreement, or other person working in a food establishment.

“Farmers market”means a marketplace which operates seasonally as a common market for fresh fruits and vegetables on a retail basis for consumption elsewhere. A person who sells potentially hazardous food (food that is capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of toxins) at a farmers market must obtain a license for each county in which the person operates. A license is not required to sell wholesome, fresh shell eggs to consumer customers.

“Food” means a raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, a beverage, an ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption, or chewing gum.

“Food Code” means the 1997 Food Code published by the United States Public Health Service, as amended and incorporated by reference into Iowa Code Chapter 137F (2005).

“Food contact surface” means a surface of equipment or a utensil with which food normally comes into contact; or a surface of equipment of a utensil from which food may drain, drip, or splash into a food, or onto a surface normally in contact with food.

“Foodborne disease outbreak” means an incident in which two (2) or more persons experience a similar illness after ingestion of a common food; and Epidemiological analysis implicates the food as the source of the illness.“Foodborne disease outbreak” includes a single case of illness such as one (1) person ill from botulism or chemical poisoning.

“Food employee” means an individual working with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or food-contact surfaces.

“Food establishment” means an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends or otherwise provides food for human consumption. “Food establishment” includes restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and other locations including, but not limited to, a food service operation in a school, summer camp, residential service substance abuse treatment facility, halfway house substance abuse treatment facility, correctional facility operated by the department of corrections, the state training school or the Iowa juvenile home

“Food processing plant” means a commercial operation that manufactures, packages, labels, or stores food for human consumption and does not provide food directly to a consumer.

“Food service establishment” means a food establishment where food is prepared or served for individual portion service intended for consumption on the premises or subject to Iowa sales tax as provided in Iowa Code section 422.45.

“HACCP plan” means a written document that details the formal procedures for following the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point principles developed by The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.

“Highly susceptible population” means a group of persons who are more likely than other populations to experience foodborne disease because they are immunocompromised or older adults and in a facility that provides health care or assisted living services, such as a hospital or nursing home; or preschool age children in a facility that provides custodial care, such as a day care center.

“Home food establishment” means a business on the premises of a residence where potentially hazardous bakery goods are prepared for consumption elsewhere. Annual gross sales of these products cannot exceed $20,000. This term does not include a residence where food is prepared to be used or sold by churches, fraternal societies, or charitable, civic or nonprofit organizations. Residences which prepare or distribute honey, shell eggs or nonhazardous baked goods are not required to be licensed as home food establishments. Home food establishments with annual gross sales of $1,000 or less in sales of potentially hazardous bakery products are exempt from licensing under Iowa Code section 137D.2, if the food is labeled and the label states that the food comes from a kitchen not under state inspection or licensure and that labeling complies with rule 481—34.3(137D).

“Imminent health hazard” means a significant threat or danger to health that is considered to exist when there is evidence sufficient to show that a product, practice, circumstance, or event creates a situation that requires immediate correction or cessation of operation to prevent injury based on (1) the number of potential injuries, and (2) the nature, severity, and duration of the anticipated injury.

“Law” means Iowa Code Chapter 137F (2005), which includes those portions of the 1997 Food Code as incorporated by legislative action.

“License” means a permit issued by the Department or a local government entity under contract with the Department that authorizes a person to operate a food establishment.

“License holder” means the entity that is legally responsible for the operation of the food establishment such as the owner, the owner’s agent, or other person; and possesses a valid permit to operate a food establishment.

Mobile food unit” means a food establishment that is readily movable, which either operates up to three consecutive days at one location or returns to a home base of operation at the end of each day.

“Perishable food” means potentially hazardous food.

“Permit” means a license issued by the Department or a local governmental entity under contract with the Department that authorizes a person to operate a food establishment.

“Permit holder” means the entity that is legally responsible for the operation of the food establishment such as the owner, the owner’s agent, or other person; and possesses a valid permit to operate a food establishment.

“Person in charge (PIC)” means the individual present at a food establishment who is responsible for the operation at the time of inspection.

“Potentially hazardous food (PHF)” means a food that is natural or synthetic and is in a form capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms, or the growth and toxin production of clostridium botulinum. “Potentially hazardous food” includes an animal food that is raw or heat-treated, a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, and garlic and oil mixtures that are not acidified or otherwise modified at a food processing plant in a way that results in mixtures that do not support growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms. “Potentially hazardous food” does not include the following:

   (a) An air-cooled hard-boiled egg with shell intact,
(b) A food with an aw (water activity) value of 0.85 or less,
(c) A food with a hydrogen ion concentration (pH) level of 4.6 or below when measured at twenty-four degrees Centigrade or seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit, or
(d) A food, in an unopened hermetically sealed container, that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility under conditions of nonrefrigerated storage and distribution.

Pushcart” means a non-self-propelled vehicle food establishment limited to serving nonpotentially hazardous foods or commissary-wrapped foods maintained at proper temperatures, or limited to the preparation and serving of frankfurters.

“Ready-to-eat food (RTE)” means food that is in a form that is edible without washing, cooking, or additional preparation by the food establishment or the consumer and that is reasonably expected to be consumed in that form.“Ready-to-eat food” includes (1) potentially hazardous food that is unpackaged and cooked to the temperature and time required for the specific food according to the Food Code; (2) raw, washed, cut fruits and vegetables; (3) whole, raw, fruits and vegetables that are presented for consumption without the need for further washing, such as at a buffet; and (4) other food presented for consumption for which further washing or cooking is not required and from which rinds, peels, husks, or shells are removed.

“Regulatory authority” means the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (Department) and the local governmental entities under contract with the Department that have jurisdiction over a food establishment.

“Retail food establishment” means a food establishment that sells food or food products to consumer customers intended for preparation or consumption off the premises.

“Single-service articles” means tableware, carry-out utensils, and other items such as bags, containers, placemats, stirrers, straws, toothpicks, and wrappers that are designed and constructed for one time, one person use.

“Temporary food establishment” means a food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration.

“Vending machine” means a self-service device that, upon insertion of a coin, paper currency, token, card, or key, dispenses unit servings of food in bulk or in packages without the necessity of replenishing the device between each vending operation.

Terms and Definitions Specific to Lodging Inspections

“Bed and breakfast home” means a private residence which provides lodging and meals for guests, in which the host or hostess resides and in which no more than four guest families are lodged at the same time. The facility may advertise as a bed and breakfast home, but not as a hotel, motel or restaurant. The facility is exempt from licensing and inspection as a hotel or as a food establishment. A bed and breakfast home may serve food only to overnight guests, unless a food establishment license is secured.

“Bed and breakfast inn” means a hotel which has nine or fewer guest rooms.

“Boarder” means a person who rents a room, rooms or apartment for at least a week. A boarder is considered permanent and is not a transient guest.

“Boarding house” means a house in which lodging is rented and meals are served to permanent guests. A boarding house is not a food service establishment or hotel unless it rents or caters to transient guests.

“Hotel” means any building equipped, used or advertised to the public as a place where sleeping accommodations are rented to temporary or transient guests.

“License holder” means an individual, corporation, partnership, governmental unit, association or any other entity to whom a license was issued under Iowa Code chapter 137C, 137D or 137F.

“Transient guest” means an overnight lodging guest who does not intend to stay for any permanent length of time. Any guest who rents a room for more than 31 consecutive days is not classified as a transient guest.

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Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals
Food and Consumer Safety Bureau
Lucas State Office Building
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0083
Phone: (515) 281-6538
Fax: (515) 281-3291
Email: Webmaster@dia.state.ia.us