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For Release: Jan. 25, 2011
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Public Hearing Scheduled Feb. 4 on State Public Health Rules

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will conduct a public hearing on a variety of proposed rules on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 1102 of the OSDH at 1000 Northeast Tenth St. in Oklahoma City. The public is invited to attend the hearing to provide written comments or speak about the rules. The proposed rules affect restaurants, grocery stores and other food service establishments, nursing facilities, licensed alarm installers and locksmiths.

The proposed rules are available for review on the OSDH Web site at http://hrds.health.ok.gov. A detailed rule impact statement describing proposed changes, the expected impact on those affected, and the impact on public health is posted. Copies of the proposed rules may also be viewed in person at the OSDH, 1000 Northeast Tenth St., Oklahoma City, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in Room 1011.

Persons who cannot attend the Feb. 4 hearing may submit their comments to the OSDH on or before the hearing by calling (405) 271-6868, faxing (405) 271-7360, sending email to HealthResources@health.ok.gov, or by mailing comments to Rule Comments, Room 1011, Oklahoma State Department of Health, 1000 Northeast Tenth St., Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1207. All comments must be received by close of business on Feb. 4, 2011.

Proposed Food Service Establishment Rules:

  • A number of changes are proposed for the rules affecting food service establishments. These include new terms for prioritizing problems found in restaurants, and allowing for the use of new technology in hand drying devices and fruit and vegetable washing and sanitizing. A new requirement is proposed to improve food worker awareness of food allergy concerns in the food service and retail setting.
  • Other changes for food safety would affect lettuce, spinach and cabbage that have been cut, shredded, sliced, or chopped.  The temperatures of these cut leafy green foods would have to be controlled and monitored in an effort to limit germ growth or toxin formation.  Also, rule changes would prohibit serving or offering undercooked mixed meats on child menus. New rules are added with criteria for using a non-continuous cooking process with raw animal foods.
  • Requirements related to reporting of employee illnesses have been restructured to enhance the food service establishment’s ability to avoid the potential spread of disease and foodborne illness. Other changes require establishments to have written procedures if they allow employees to handle ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.  A new subchapter is added to strengthen the requirements for mobile food service establishments and pushcarts.
  • Food service establishments may also be affected by a rule implementing a new rebate program. Restaurants that constructed smoking rooms may apply for a rebate of a portion of the amount paid to build the smoking rooms.  To be eligible for the rebate, the smoking room must be removed from service and the restaurant must be completely smoke free by Jan. 1, 2013. The rebate is paid from the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Revolving Fund.

Proposed Nursing Facilities Rules:

  • Changes to nursing facility rules address new technologies in nurse call systems, and would allow more flexibility in the design of nursing facilities. These changes are to support creation of more homelike environments. An application process and criteria would be created for requesting a waiver of law and rules for nursing homes housing no more than 12 residents. Other changes amend procedures for destruction of medications and criteria for the emergency pharmacist.

Proposed Licensed Alarm Installers and Locksmiths Rules:

  • New rules applying to individual alarm or locksmith installers would address a problem of licensed individuals performing work while not employed by a licensed company. Other changes establish a residential alarm system tag. The new type of tag would be affixed to residential alarm systems and would give consumers easy access to information related to the installer and system installed.

The rules are scheduled for review and vote by the State Board of Health at their meeting March 8, 2011.  If approved by the Board, the rules will be submitted to the Oklahoma Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin for review and approval. The Food Service Establishment rules could become effective in November 2011, while the other rule changes could become effective in June 2011.

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