Fall Retail Food for Thought Newsletter

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Retail Food For Thought Newsletter banner with meat, bread and a basket of groceries

Retail Food for Thought is an annual newsletter written by inspectors from the Retail Food Program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

October 19, 2022

Achieving Active Managerial Control 

Taking Food Temperatures

Taking food temperatures can seem like an easy task, but if done improperly, it can lead to incorrect temperature readings, violations on an inspection report, or could lead to a consumer illness. Taking a food temperature is not a one-size-fits-all activity. It is important to understand the dos and don’ts for taking food temperatures.

Taking temperatures are an important part in keeping the food supply safe in your community. If you have more questions about taking food temperatures reach out to your area food inspector.   



  • Take temperatures inside the food.
  • Clean the thermometer probe prior to taking a food temperature.
  • Use a small diameter probe tip when taking food temperatures of thin food such as meat patties and fish fillets.
  • Take temperatures in the warmest part of a refrigeration unit and coldest part of a hot holding unit (usually but not always at the front of equipment).
  • For cooking and cooling temperatures, the temperature should be taken inside the product at the thickest/most center portion of the product.
  • For cold holding and hot holding, the temperature of the product should be taken toward the top exterior portion of the product.
  • Take temperatures of your products regularly and develop a policy or standard operating procedures for staff to take temperatures.
  • Keep hot foods hot at 135F or above and cold foods cold at 41F or below.
  • Rely on temperature gauges on equipment to provide accurate product temperatures.
  • Take temperatures of products in the coldest part of refrigeration equipment and hottest part of hot holding equipment.
  • Wait until there is a problem to begin taking temperatures.
  • Sell products that could be temperature abused; when in doubt throw it out.
  • Only have an infrared thermometer.
  • Assume food deliveries are at the appropriate temperatures.
  • Use an infrared thermometer to take unpackaged food temperatures.
  • Wait for your inspector to take food temperatures for you.







Legislative Updates

Sesame Added as the Ninth Major Food Allergen

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), an estimated 32 million individuals are affected by food allergies in the United States. An allergic reaction is triggered when the body’s immune system overreacts to specific proteins, with symptoms that can range from mild to severe and potentially be life threatening.

Jar of sesame seed oil and seeds

Currently, nine foods are recognized as major food allergens in the U.S. and account for 90% of food allergies:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Crustacean shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans

The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) act was passed earlier this year adding sesame as the ninth major food allergen in the U.S. beginning January 1, 2023. Sesame is a flowering plant that produces edible seeds that are a common ingredient used in cuisines ranging from sweet to savory. FARE estimates that there are currently 700,000 million individuals who are affected by a sesame allergy. Food labeling requirements and regulation reserved for major food allergens will now apply to food containing sesame, including incidental ingredients, spice, and flavor blends.

Common foods that may contain sesame:

  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seed
  • Tahini
  • Hummus
  • Baked goods and bread buns
  • Snack and protein bars
  • Benne, benne seed
  • Salad dressing
  • Seasoning, flavoring, and spices
  • Sushi

There is no cure for food allergies, but food establishments can help consumers avoid certain foods by training employees in food safety and following food labeling regulations to identify allergens. Food establishments can reference the “Food Labeling for Retail Food Establishments” fact sheet for more details and information regarding food labeling requirements.

Managing Food Allergens Training Opportunity

The Minnesota Food Safety and Defense Task Force (FSDTF) recently announced an introductory training opportunity in managing food allergens. The webinar will be delivered by Brent Kobielush, Ph. D., Director of Food Safety with The Acheson Group (TAG). This fundamentals in food allergen course will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your company’s ability to manage food allergens within supply chains.

Learning Objectives

  • Basic overview of food allergens and why they’re important
  • A Brief overview of the Faster Act
  • How to evaluate and establish your current food allergen management plan

Registration Information

The webinar will on November 17th from noon - 1 p.m. It will include a 45 min. presentation and 15 min Q&A session.

Participation is free, but registration is required.


If you have questions about this training opportunity, please contact the MDA Food and Feed Safety Division’s Outreach Coordinator, Natasha Hedin, at (612-247-5888)


chocolate pops with hemp leaf

Hemp Derived Edible Cannabinoid Product Sales (ECP) Sales

On July 1, 2022, Minnesota law (MS 151.72) pertaining to the sale of certain products derived from hemp changed to allow for the sale and processing of goods known as edible cannabinoid product (ECP). An ECP is not considered a food or drug if made and sold in conformance with state law. The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy has authority over ECPs. 

Visit the following links for more specific information about hemp derived ECP processing and sales.

Resources for Operators

vector of inspector

Inspector or Impersonator?

While reports of impersonators are rare, we have received calls from operators stating someone has tried to access their facility without authorization. An inspector will always identify themselves before beginning an inspection. The inspector will present a Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) badge that has their name and photo on it. If you have questions about the photo ID, the inspector should also be carrying a metal MDA Inspector badge with a unique badge number. If the person can’t present their badge or does not appear to be an inspector, you can call 651-201-6023 to verify their credentials. If the inspector cannot be verified, or you think someone is trying to access your facility without authorization, please contact local law enforcement and report it to the MDA.

More than 100 translated documents available online

Retail food establishment owners and operators can now find more than 100 translated versions of food code fact sheets, forms, manuals, and guidance documents online at Food Business Safety (state.mn.us) and Minnesota Food Code Fact Sheets | Minnesota Department of Agriculture (state.mn.us).

Each document includes important food code requirements and restrictions in two languages. The translated text, either Somali or Spanish, is on the left side of the page and the English text is on the right.

What's Sizzling Inside the MDA

vector of people sitting on sofas and chairs talking

Plan Review Listening Sessions

In summer 2022, a survey was available to stakeholders to provide their input on the modernization of construction plan review and the current fee structure. Questions in the survey revolved around industries that participate in retail food businesses, what priorities the applicant valued, and what steps can be taken by the Plan Review Team to improve the experience. The goal of the survey was to seek program improvement for both the MDA and stakeholders while ensuring sustainable funding for services provided. The results of the survey were shared during two public listening sessions hosted by the MDA. Additional feedback was received from the attendees. This format provided an intimate setting for stakeholders to share their personalized experience and detailed ideas for change. 

Results from the listening sessions and survey indicated two different experiences that applicants have had with the plan review process. Some applicants understand and like the process the way it is. Others indicated a lack of understanding of the requirements before submitting their application. The findings have led the Plan Review Team to formulizing methods for providing consultative services on the front end of the process. Future changes will be coming that will benefit both the MDA and retail food establishments. These changes will be shared on the plan review website and future newsletters once they are complete. 

In the News

New ideas, innovations, and business models are always welcome at the MDA. Be sure to work with your inspectors to help navigate the regulations, just like this owner did when starting a new self- service grocery store. Reach out directly to your area inspector or the licensing liaison line at MDA.licensing@state.mn.us for help navigating your next great idea!

clip of video for in the news section

A self service grocery store is thriving in a Minnesota town, and showing others what's possible

Evansville's Main Street Market is thriving in a rural Minnesota town by doing more with less. Watch the video to learn more about a business that FFSD employees helped get started with a variance as an unattended food establishment. 

Watch the video

Lettuce Connect

Food & Feed Safety Main Line

651-201-6027 MDA.FFSD.Info@state.mn.us

Licensing & Registration Food & Feed Safety

651-201-6062 MDA.Licensing@state.mn.us

HACCP/Variance Questions & Plan Review

Retail HACCP and Variance: MDA.HACCP.Variance@state.mn.us
New Construction or Major Remodels: 651-201-6194 MDA.Plan.Review@state.mn.us
Licensing Questions New Business: 651-201-6081 MDA.FoodLicensingLiaison@state.mn.us

Emergency (Fire, Flood, Natural Disaster, etc.) or Complaints

Food complaints: 651-201-6064 or after hours 651-201-6027
Reporting Foodborne Illness: 1-877-FOOD-ILL
Food Emergencies State Duty Officer: 1-800-422-0798

Tell us what you think

Survey link to a quick 5 minute survey: www.mda.state.mn.us/retailsurvey

Share with co-workers so they can sign up for future newsletters: www.mda.state.mn.us/retailnewsletter