Reduced Oxygen Packaging: Guidance for Food Service Operators

This guidance is for food service operators who want to do ROP at their food service establishments and do not already have an approved Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan.

Background Information

Reduced oxygen packaging (ROP) is the process of placing food into a package, removing the oxygen from the package and sealing it, to keep food fresher for a longer time. ROP techniques include:

  • Vacuum Packaging. Food is placed in a bag or packaging and the oxygen (air) is removed using a special vacuum packaging machine. The package is heat sealed or crimped closed.
  • Cook-Chill. Cooked food is portioned into bags while hot. The bags are sealed or crimped closed, rapidly chilled and refrigerated. The cooking and cooling process removes oxygen from the package.
  • Sous Vide. Raw or partially cooked food is sealed in a bag then cooked, usually at or near the desired final cooking temperature. Cooking the food in the sealed bag removes the oxygen. The cooked food can be removed from the bag and served, hot held for service or rapidly chilled and held under refrigeration until reheated for service.

Certain dangerous bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes grow well in reduced oxygen environments. When ROP is not done correctly, these bacteria can grow in the packaged food, making people seriously ill. Proper precautions must be taken for ROP to be carried out safely.

How to Obtain a Waiver to Do ROP

  • A food service establishment must have a New York State Department of Health approved plan before they can practice ROP. The plan must identify basic food safety practices such as time and temperature monitoring, proper cooling and organized food labeling.
  • Read the Full ROP Guidance and associated forms for the complete set of requirements that food service operators need to apply for a permit waiver to use ROP in their establishments. The form required for ROP depends on the type of foods being packaged and length of time they will be held. If you are still unsure which form to use, your local health department or state district office can help.
  • All ROP permit waiver applications must be submitted to the local health department or state district office with jurisdiction in the county where the food service establishment is located.