On October 11, 2015 the new Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER) went into effect. Texas last updated its food code in 2006 which was based on the 2001 FDA Food Code. The new TFER is closely aligned with the 2013 FDA Model Food Code and brings Texas in line with current developments in food law, safety, cooking, storage and other regulatory issues. TFER regulates all retail food establishments such as restaurants, grocery stores, markets, delicatessens, bars, cafes, snack bars, school cafeterias, temporary food establishments, and mobile food establishments
Some of the new significant changes in the TFER include:
- A new health inspection form and a 3-Tier risk designation to include Priority Items, Priority Foundation Items, and Core Items
- Added definitions for bare hand contact, Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food, cook chill packaging, sous vide packaging, and vacuum packaging
- A new statewide mandate that all food employees successfully complete a food handler training course within 60 days of employment. This food handler requirement begins on Sept. 1, 2016. Watch food handler video
- New section relating to Contamination Events
- New requirements relating to shelf stock tags
- New requirements on permit holders to obtain prior approval from local regulatory authority before conducting bare hand contact activities with ready-to-eat foods
- New requirements on the holding of cold foods without temperature control
- A new provision requiring all food establishments to post a sign informing consumers and guests that health inspection reports are available upon request. Download 8.5" x 11" sign.
- Other regulations relating to exposed tableware, handwashing facilities, and inspection schedules.
In most of the state the TFER will continue to be enforced by local health authorities. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will continue to enforce the TFER and conduct inspections in rural areas where there is no local health authority conducting inspections.
TRA hosted a webinar on this issue June 13, 2016. Chris Sparks, Manager, Public sanitation and retail food safety groupolicy, standards, and quality assurance, Texas Department of State Health Services was our guest speaker. Download the webinar recording.