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Texas Food Establishment Rules: What You Need to Know

DATE: 3rd May, 2022

We break down the major changes in the 2021 Texas Food Establishment Rules and what you need to know to keep your business safe and violation-free.

In 2021, Texas updated the food service establishments regulations to bring them more closely with the 2017 FDA code. The new Texas food establishment program isn’t an exact copy of the FDA rules, however. It consists of regulations that are specifically for the promotion of Texas public health.

All of these changes are important, but the most important is highlighted at the end of this post.

In short, it is now mandatory to have a certified food manager on the premises during all operating hours. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will cite any food establishment who fails to meet this requirement.

Make sure to take some time to review these new rules for food establishments so you can provide the best training available to your employees, and remain in compliance with the law at all times.


The definition of various terms in the retail food establishments rules change from time to time to be more or less inclusive. The new rules have been amended to include more types of businesses that can be regulated, and exactly what constitutes a food establishment.

Also updated is the term “regulatory authority” which now includes all different types of health authorities. The previous definition was more limited in scope.

Since vending machines can now accept many different types of payment, including credit cards and touch free methods like Apple Pay, the definition has broadened to include these. The previous definition did not cover vending machines with alternative payment options.

Cooking times:

The FDA food code was updated in 2017, and with that came several changes in food safety requirements. The new Texas retail food rules now align with the current FDA guidelines.

One of the most vital parts of operating a safe food service business is cooking foods to the proper temperature, killing any potential bacteria or other pathogens. Periodically, as scientific evidence is reviewed, both the temperature and time at which it must be maintained are updated.

Foods that have a minimum temperature requirement of 155 degrees previously needed to be held at that temperature for 15 seconds. Under the new rules, those foods need to be held at that temperature for 17 seconds. This includes ground beef and raw eggs that are not prepared to serve immediately.

Foods which need to be cooked to 165 degrees previously needed to be held at that temperature for 15 seconds. Now, those foods need only reach that temperature for 1 seconds. This should reduce unnecessary heating, saving time and improving product quality.

Outdoor dining with dogs:

People love to bring their pets just about everywhere in Texas these days. The new regulations allow for this but set forth clear guidelines to keep everyone safe. Here’s a few of the new rules that a texas food establishment needs to follow if they would like to allow dogs in outdoor areas:

  • A sign needs to be conspicuously posted to let everyone know that dogs are permitted.
  • Customers with dog’s need to be able to enter the dog-friendly area from the exterior of the establishment.
    • The dog may not come inside.
    • Dogs need to be leashed and controlled at all times.
    • Dogs may not seat on the seats, tables or other surfaces
    • Food can’t be prepared in the dog-friendly area.

Of course, these regulations only apply to pets. People with service animals are exempt, and their owners can dine anywhere.

Presence of a certified food manager:

One of the biggest changes that everyone should be aware of regards the number of people that are required to have the food handling certification. Under the old rules, only one person with a management position was required to hold a certification. Now, someone with the certification must be on duty at all times.

Before the adoption of the new texas food establishment rules, a person who was a certified food manager just had to be employed by the business. They didn’t necessarily have to be on the premises during operating hours.

Training Employees

This requirement means that businesses will need to have more employees certified to cover every shift. Given the staffing challenges businesses are now addressing, the more certified employees, the better.

Responsible Training’s food manager course is one of the best ways to get your employees in compliance. The course meets ANSI requirements, and is consistently updated to make sure your employees receive the latest and most up to date information.

Having employees trained in proper food management reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses. Even one outbreak can negatively impact your business for years. Additionally, you can avoid fines, civil and liability by having everyone understand the law and food safety practices.

Visit the Responsible Training website to find pricing information, course content, and get answers to your questions, and more.

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