Proposed Changes to the Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER)
Date Posted: 11/14/2014
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The current TFER in 25 TAC Chapter 229 will be repealed.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 all food employees, except for the certified food manager, shall successfully complete a food handler training course, accredited by the department, within 60 days of employment.
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.