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Food Establishments Group



First Draft of Proposed Changes to the Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER)

The Division for Regulatory Services with Texas Department of State Health Services is seeking input on changes to the state’s Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER). This is a large revision that will take current rules adopted in 2006, which are based on the 2001 FDA Model Food Code and supplemental changes from 2004, and conform these rules to the 2013 FDA Model Food Code. Impetus to implement this project came from stakeholders to:

  • Allow many of the health districts in the state to be in compliance with Standard One of the FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Program Standards. Standard One requires that Texas have a food code that is no more than one version behind the FDA and in compliance with current measures to handle the risk of foodborne illness. Texas does not meet that standard at this time.
  • Update Texas to the current code requirements that have changed as a result of research and/or best practice upgrades.
  • Foster more uniform and consistent inspection and training programs in all facilities across the state.
The current TFER in 25 TAC Chapter 229 will be repealed. The new rule will replace in 25 TAC Chapter 228. The Sections have been reorganized and have transitioned to Subchapters. All references to Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF) have been eliminated and replaced with the current FDA language of Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food (TCS) where applicable. Language pertaining to violations will transition to Priority Item Violation and Priority Foundation Violation from Critical Violation and from Non-Critical Violation to Core Item Violation. All terms will appear together as applicable.

The New Subchapter A- Purpose and Definitions contains new definitions such as “Sous vide”, “cook-chill”, “micro market”, and “conditional employee” and updated definitions of event, farmers' market, and food establishments.

The New Subchapter B - Management and Personnel updates management and personnel requirements. Point of emphasis is a new requirement to have a Certified Food Manager (CFM) on premises during all hours of food preparation activity.

The New Subchapter C - Food updates the food receiving, storage, preparation, and cooking, cooling, display, and time and temperature requirements. This section also includes the current industry standards such as the inclusion of allowing cold foods to be kept out of temperature control up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit before discarding.

New Subchapter D- Equipment, Utensils, and Linens updates include industry standards such as the requirement that exposed, unused tableware must now be changed between customers or washed, rinsed and sanitized before use.

New Subchapter E - Water, Plumbing, and Waste revises standard permit mobile food operations and temporary food operations, if approved by the regulatory authority, when food exposure is limited, to use chemically treated towelettes for handwashing. A key change for this section includes adding a restriction prohibiting food establishments from using showers as a service sink.

New Subchapter F- Physical Facilities requires the physical facility to have anti-slip floor coverings and retail establishments with outdoor services will require overhead protection.

New Subchapter G- Poisonous or Toxic Materials includes the poisonous or toxic material protection requirements that reflect the changes in the 2013 FDA Model Food Code rules language and the current industry standards such as the approval of chemicals, like ozone, to be used as an additive and antimicrobial agent wash, treat, store and process to raw, whole fruits and vegetables. A further key point of emphasis is the requirement for a food establishment to maintain first aid supplies.

New Subchapter H - Requirements Applicable to Certain Establishments now groups together sections. Among the changes are new requirements for mobile food unit operations that bring the State requirements up to current regulatory standards. Temporary food establishments would be required to have at least one person on-site with an accredited food handler certification. The Micro markets section rules are completely new.

New Subchapter I - Compliance requires periodic inspections of temporary food establishments and language addressing critical violations as priority and priority foundation item violations and non-critical violations as core item violations.

New Subchapter J - Private Water Systems is specific to the State of Texas for Private Water Wells. This section adds to the Texas Food Establishment Rules provisions to ensure safe drinking water systems at Food Establishments utilizing private, non-regulated water wells.
For comments or questions on proposed rules, please contact Christopher Sparks, Manager at christopher.sparks@dshs.state.tx.us or Tom Arbizu, Training and Standardization Officer tom.arbizu@dshs.state.tx.us The close of comments and questions will be August 1, 2014.

First Draft of Proposed Changes to The Texas Food Establishment Rules TFER (pdf 1MB)

SUMMARY OF CHANGES for TFER 2014 Revision (pdf 215 KB)

Proposed Retail Food Establishment Inspection Report 5-01-2014 (pdf 438 KB)


Proposed New Rules - §229.661. Cottage Food Production Operations

During the 83rd Legislature, Regular Session 2013, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 970 that amends the Health and Safety Code (HSC), Chapter 437, by amending provisions for cottage food production operations. This law is effective September 1, 2013.

A cottage food production operation is exempt from the requirements of a food service establishment and does not have to comply with the Texas Food Establishment Rules. Health departments do not have regulatory authority to conduct inspections of a cottage food production operation. However, the Department or local health authority has authority to act to prevent an immediate and serious threat to human life or health through emergency order, recall orders and delegation of powers or duties. Health departments are required to maintain records of all complaints against a cottage food production operation.

  • A cottage food production operation is defined as an individual, operating out of the individual’s home, who: 
  •  Produces a baked good, candy, coated and uncoated nuts, unroasted nut butters, fruit butters, a canned jam or jelly, a fruit pie, dehydrated fruit or vegetables, including dried beans, popcorn and popcorn snacks, cereal, including granola, dry mix, vinegar, pickles, mustard, roasted coffee or dry tea, or a dried herb or dried herb mix. 
  • Has an annual gross income of $50,000 or less from the sale of the described foods; and
  • Sells the foods produced directly to consumers at the individual’s home, a farmers’ market, a farm stand, or a municipal, county, or nonprofit fair, festival or event.
  • Delivers products to the consumer at the point of sale or another location designated by the consumer.

An individual who operates a cottage food production operation must successfully complete a basic food safety education or training program for food handlers accredited under Health and Safety Code, Chapter 438(D) by January 1, 2014.

A cottage food production may not sell to customers potentially hazardous foods. A potentially hazardous food (PHF) is a food that requires time and temperature control for safety (TCS) to limit pathogen growth or toxin production. In other words, a food must be held under proper temperature controls, such as refrigeration to prevent the growth of bacteria that may cause human illness. A PHF/TCS is a food that: contains protein, moisture (water activity greater than 0.85), and is neutral to slightly acidic (pH between 4.6 -7.5).

Foods sold by a cottage food production operation must be packaged and labeled. The food must be packaged in a manner that prevents product contamination, except for foods that are too large and or bulky for conventional packaging. The labeling information for foods that are not packaged must be provided to the consumer on an invoice or receipt. The label must include:

  • The name and address of the cottage food production operation; 
  • The common or usual name of the product, if a food is made with a major food allergen, such as eggs, nuts, soy, peanuts, milk or wheat that ingredient must be listed on the label; and
  •  A statement: “This food is made in a home kitchen and is not inspected by the Department of State Health Services or a local health department." 
  • The labels must be legible.

Food produced by a cottage food production operation may not be sold via the Internet, by mail order or at wholesale.
The Department of State Health Services is in the process of amending the rule, Section 229.661, concerning cottage food production operations.

DRAFT WORKING DOCUMENT - §229.661. Cottage Food Production Operations (pdf 218KB)




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Division for Regulatory Services - P. O. Box 149347 - Austin, Texas 78714-9347 - (512) 834-6770
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Last updated June 23, 2014