New rules for hygiene and food safety are in effect for Utah restaurants and are being enforced.

In an effort to reduce the number of food-borne illnesses, including salmonella, hepatitis A and E. coli, the Utah Department of Health rewrote state guidelines on food safety and cleanliness for the first time in 20 years last spring.Restaurants were required to adopt the new rules by Oct. 15.

Inspections during the past few months by the Salt Lake City-County Department of Health have found some confusion about what is required. So the health department has tried to help by handing out educational materials on the new regulations.

For example, not every restaurant has to abide by the consumer advisory requirement warning customers about potential health risks from raw or undercooked food. Restaurants such as McDonald's and Taco Bell are exempt because the meat they serve is cooked to well-done. But those serving sunnyside-up eggs, steak tartar or raw fish, which is served in sushi bars, are required to post the warning.

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The new requirements include double hand-washing procedures for food handlers for a minimum of 20 seconds to prevent the spread of hepatitis A, a particularly troublesome health problem in Utah.

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