NYS food code (note: separate from NYS health code)

We post here a pdf of the Article 17 of the Agriculture and Markets Law Part 271 of Title 1 of the Official Compilation Of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, in Circular 962 Rules and Regulations Relating to Retail Food Stores, dated back as revised in 2014, for reference for anyone working on this issue to promote BYO (Bring Your Own containers, utensils, cups, etc.)

For convenience, we’ll just call this food code.

Food code regulates grocery store delis in NYS. Health code, in contrast, regulates food vendors and restaurants in NYS. BYO is allowable at food vendors and restaurants in Tompkins County based on the permissive interpretation of the health code. At grocery store delis regulated by food code, we have an issue with the outdated NYS food code with BYO.

We received the food code for review from Carmen A. Valentino, Supervising Food Inspector at New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Food Safety and Inspection in April, 2022. He was kind to send us this document to work on upon our inquiry.

Department of Agriculture and Market regulates grocery store delis in New York State based on this food code.

In particular, Section 271-8.3(e) is the problem for us for practicing BYO at grocery store delis. It says:

Take-out containers are to be provided by the retail food store or food service establishment. Personal containers are not allowed.

We think this food code is outdated in consideration of its counterparts from California and Canada which allows BYO at grocery store delis.

We have a letter of clarification from the county’s health department that regulates food vendors and restaurants based on NYS health code, which does not have an explicit language like above prohibiting BYO. Health code is more permissive and open to interpretation. Tompkins County and NYC are two places that interpret BYO to be allowable in New York State.

Grocery store delis are the last area to work on for our group’ s BYO effort in our county.

We are working on this issue with NYS DEC, SUNY ESF and other Zero Waste groups in the state while encouraging people in other counties to work with their health department. We hope our precedence will make things a little easier for other counties to follow suit to start their own BYO Reduces program.

Updated: 9/6/2022

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