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RULE §229.178Accreditation of Food Handler Education or Training Programs

(a) Purpose. This section is intended to provide the framework for accrediting food safety education or training programs for food handlers in accordance with the Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 438, Subchapter D, §438.0431. A uniform standard governing the accreditation of food handler programs enhances the recognition of reciprocity among regulatory agencies and reduces the expense of duplicate education incurred when food handlers work in multiple regulatory jurisdictions. Education of the food handlers provides more qualified employees, thereby reducing the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by improper food preparation and handling techniques.

(b) Definitions. The following words and terms when used in this section shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

  (1) Accredited food handler program--A program approved by the department that meets the standards set forth in this section.

  (2) Department--The Texas Department of State Health Services.

  (3) Food--A raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, beverage or ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption, or chewing gum.

  (4) Food establishment--

    (A) Food establishment means an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption:

      (i) such as a restaurant; retail food store; satellite or catered feeding location; catering operation if the operation provides food directly to a consumer or to a conveyance used to transport people; market; vending location; conveyance used to transport people; institution; or food bank; and

      (ii) that relinquishes possession of food to a consumer directly, or indirectly through a delivery service such as home delivery of grocery orders or restaurant takeout orders, or delivery service that is provided by common carriers.

    (B) Food establishment includes:

      (i) an element of the operation such as a transportation vehicle or a central preparation facility that supplies a vending location or satellite feeding location unless the vending or feeding location is permitted by the regulatory authority; and

      (ii) an operation that is conducted in a mobile, stationary, temporary, or permanent facility or location; where consumption is on or off the premises; and regardless of whether there is a charge for the food.

    (C) Food establishment does not include:

      (i) an establishment that offers only prepackaged foods that are not potentially hazardous;

      (ii) a produce stand that only offers whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables;

      (iii) a food processing plant;

      (iv) a kitchen in a private home if only food that is not potentially hazardous is prepared for sale or service at a function such as a religious or charitable organization's bake sale if allowed by law;

      (v) an area where food that is prepared as specified in clause (iv) of this subparagraph is sold or offered for human consumption;

      (vi) a Bed and Breakfast Limited facility as defined in these rules; or

      (vii) a private home that receives catered or home-delivered food.

  (5) Food handler--A food service employee who works with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or food contact surfaces.

  (6) Law--Applicable local, state and federal statutes, regulations and ordinances.

  (7) Licensee--The individual, corporation or company that is licensed by the department to operate certified food handler programs.

  (8) Person--An association, corporation, individual, partnership or other legal entity, government or governmental subdivision or agency.

  (9) Reciprocity--Acceptance by state and local regulatory authorities of a food handler certificate issued by a department accredited food handler program.

  (10) Regulatory authority--The local, state, or federal enforcement body or authorized representative having jurisdiction over the food establishment.

  (11) Sponsor--An individual designated in writing to the department, by the licensee, as the person responsible for administrative management of the program.

(c) Food handler education and training program. The department may accredit an education or training program for basic food safety. The program shall include employee knowledge, responsibilities and training as required in Chapter 228 of this title (relating to Retail Food Establishments).

  (1) Education or training course curriculum. A food handler training or education course shall include the following basic food safety principles.

    (A) Foodborne disease outbreak. Instruction on foodborne disease outbreak shall include the definition of foodborne disease outbreak, the causes and preventive measures, including employee reporting requirements as defined in Chapter 228, Subchapter B of this title (relating to Management and Personnel).

    (B) Good hygienic practices. Instruction on good hygienic practices shall include the procedures as required in Chapter 228, Subchapter B of this title.

    (C) Preventing contamination by employees. Instruction shall include the training as required in Chapter 228, Subchapter C of this title (relating to Food), regarding the training requirements for contact with ready to eat food with their bare hands.

    (D) Cross Contamination. Instruction on cross contamination shall include procedures on the prevention of cross-contamination of foods, sanitization methods and corrective actions as required in 2017 FDA Food Code, Chapters 3 and 4.

    (E) Time and temperature. Instruction shall include time and temperature control of foods to limit pathogen growth or toxin production as required in Chapter 228, Subchapter C of this title.

    (F) Food Allergen Awareness. Instruction shall include the food allergen awareness information described by Texas Health and Safety Code §437.027(b).

  (2) Course length. The course length may not exceed two hours.

  (3) Course examination. A training or education program may require a participant to achieve a passing score on an examination to successfully complete the course.

  (4) Internet programs. A program accredited under this section may be delivered through the Internet.

(d) Food handler certificate.

  (1) Certificate period. A food handler certificate issued by an accredited food handler program shall be valid for two years.

  (2) Certificate reciprocity. Department accredited food handler program issued certificates shall be recognized statewide by regulatory authorities as the valid proof of successful completion of a department accredited food handler program.

(e) Licensing of an accredited food handler program licensee. The department shall issue a license of accreditation to each certified food handler program licensee who has demonstrated compliance with this section. A license issued under these rules will expire two years from the date of issuance. This license is not transferable on change of ownership, or site location.

(f) Responsibilities of a licensee.

  (1) Compliance with certified food handler program law and rules. The licensee is responsible for compliance with applicable certified food handler program law and rules.

  (2) Payment of fees. All fees shall be non-refundable and paid as specified in subsection (g) of this section.

(g) Required fees. All fees are payable to the department and are non-refundable. Fees must be submitted with the appropriate completed application that relates to the fee category. A current license shall only be issued when all past due fees and late fees are paid for all years of operation in Texas.

  (1) Accredited food handler program license fee for initial, renewal, or change of ownership. A program fee shall be $600 for a two-year license for each food handler program.

  (2) Accredited food handler program amended license fee. Program amendment fees shall be $300.

  (3) Late fee. Accredited food handler program licensees submitting a completed renewal application to the department after the expiration date shall pay an additional $100 as a late fee.

  (4) Texas.gov fee. For all applications and renewal applications, the department is authorized to collect subscription and convenience fees, in amounts determined by Texas.gov, to recover costs associated with application and renewal application processing through Texas.gov.

(h) Certified food handler program registry. The department shall maintain a program registry of all accredited food handler programs. The registry shall be made available on the department website.


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