New rules were recently approved for adoption by the Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The purpose of the new rules is to allow the Department of State Health Services to collect fees for inspecting facilities, including the school's food service establishments, which are exempt from obtaining a Food Establishment Permit.
The rules only affect schools that receive their inspections from State agency inspectors. Schools that receive inspections from City or County inspectors will not be affected.
Here is the list of schools that receive their inspections from State agency inspectors.
List by region
Payment schedule for school inspections
|Week of February 8, 2014
|Week of February 22, 2014
See the Statutes/Laws page to view the Texas Health and Safety Code regarding school buildings and grounds.
See the Rules/Regulations page to view the rules regarding inspection fees.
See the Applications/Forms page to access the applications to be used to comply with the rules.
See the Links page for information that may be helpful when filling out applications and forms.
Changes in the Law Creating a Requirement for Two Annual Inspections
The federal statutory changes that initiated the requirement for two inspections began with the passage in 2004 of Section 111 of the federal Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which amended section 9(h) of The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. A federal rule change followed in 2005 that requires schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) to increase the number of food safety inspections from one to two annually, to post the most recent inspection report in a visible location, and to release the report to the public upon request. State agencies must also monitor schools' compliance and report annually to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The federal rule changes in 7 CFR Parts 210 and 220 were nondiscretionary and were made in an interim rule that did not undergo notice and comment procedures, but was published in the Federal Register on June 15, 2005 (70 FR 34627).
In 2005, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) notified DSHS that schools would need to receive two annual food safety inspections to maintain eligibility to receive federal funding to participate in the NSLP and SBP. DSHS lacked resources to perform the additional inspections for schools that lay outside the jurisdiction of a local city or county health authority. DSHS worked with TDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop temporary interim agreements for the 2006 and 2007 school years that allowed Texas schools to continue to receive federal funding even though DSHS could only perform one annual inspection in most schools under its jurisdiction. This interim agreement was not continued for 2008 so DSHS requested additional funding from the Texas Legislature to perform the additional inspections to ensure that the schools’ federal funding was not jeopardized.
On June 15, 2007, the governor signed House Bill (HB) 1, the General Appropriations Bill. Under HB 1, the 80th Legislature decided to fund the additional inspections by assessing an inspection fee of $300 per year per school for 2 inspections. DSHS implemented subsequent rule changes through usual notice and comment rulemaking procedures, including publication on the DSHS Website and in the Texas Register on July 6 and August 24, 2007. In addition, DSHS coordinated with the TDA to notify school districts of the proposed food safety inspection rule. At DSHS’s request, TDA disseminated a notice to school districts that was also posted in the Child Nutrition Programs Information Management System on June 26. TDA also asked the Child Nutrition Specialists at its 20 regional Education Service Centers to email this information to their respective districts.
DSHS received several comments from school districts during the rulemaking process, which culminated in the adoption of rules under 25 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 229, Subchapter Z, Inspection Fees for Retail Food Establishments. Under Section 229.472(a)(1) of this rule, a school food establishment that requests two annual inspections must pay for both inspections before DSHS conducts the first inspection. The fees collected are deposited in the state treasury to cover costs associated with hiring additional inspectors and implementing the rule changes.
Reason For/Benefit of the Inspections and Fees
DSHS regrets that this new requirement has imposed a burden on school districts. The department’s intent has been to ensure that schools are not negatively impacted by the unfunded federal mandate that originated the need for two annual food safety inspections. Clearly, Texas schools depend on the federal funding they receive, and DSHS’ goal has been to enable schools to meet eligibility requirements so they can continue to receive millions of dollars per year under the NSLP and the SBP.
Although some school districts may have received two annual food service inspections prior to the new requirement, most schools normally received only one inspection. Under Health and Safety Code, Section 437.0125, DSHS is required to collect fees to recoup the additional inspection costs, and the recent rule change implements this cost recovery requirement. The fees collected enable DSHS to perform two annual food safety inspections for all schools that request this service so that they may continue to be eligible to receive federal funding.
If you have any questions or would like to receive additional information, please contact the Environmental Health Group at (512) 834-6788.