new regulation R638

The new regulation R638 “Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises, the Transport of Food and Related Matters” has been published. It replaces R962 of 2012

What are the significant changes to R638?

The big difference is the lowering of the display of hot foods temperature from 65 °C to 60 °C.

You will also see that they provide specific instructions on cleaning and sanitising equipment in a butchery, of which they state you need to wash all equipment in a hot detergent solution 40 °C — 60 °C

There is also a special mention of measuring food temperatures. Here, it clarifies that the core temperature of food must be evaluated.

This effectively means that a probe thermometer is required to measure all temperatures. Therefore a laser gun thermometer cannot be used to record temperatures, as these do not verify core temperature but rather surface/air temperature.

Why change from 65 °C to 60 °C?

 The 65 ºC specification was based on a US standard of a nice round number. Namely 145 ºF. That converts to 62.778 ºC (hence the US talk about 63 ºC). So, our metric authorities rounded up to 65ºC, rather than down to 60 ºC.

The new changes are based on hundreds of labs’ research over decades and ultimately these numbers are based on statistical analysis. Thus, it can be difficult to say for sure the exact cut-off temperature for the death of bacteria, because if you review thousands of research papers you will find data points scattered all around.

Bacteria are temperamental. Hence you can run the same experiment ten times and you will get slightly different results.

But you can say that with 95 or 99% confidence they are not surviving at such-and-such a temperature.

On the basis of reviewing such research that the Department of Environmental Health has decided 60 ºC would be suitable.

The FCS Hygiene Audit contains a foundation backbone of the legal requirements as it relates to food premises. And it is seldom that the law surpasses best practice. This is one instance where we at FCS are happy to lower the standard as we cannot scientifically justify a stricter standard in this case and as such effective 1 July 2018, we have adjusted our requirement for hot foods to be displayed at a core temperature of 60 ºC.

You can get your copy of the new regulation R638 of 2018.

Food Consulting Services is a private South African-owned Food Testing Laboratory and Food Safety Consultancy, that tests water and food to ensure compliance with South African National Standards. We also perform hygiene survey audits to the hospitality and food manufacturing industry. If you’d like to learn more about Food Consulting Services, visit our website or feel free to enquire with us. We look forward to hearing from you and becoming your food safety partners. Get in touch with us for more information.

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