On September 1, 2023, two Texas state bills went into effect for foodservice establishments: SB 577 relates to how health inspections are conducted and regulations are enforced, and SB 812 covers food allergen awareness.
SB 577 requires the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to establish and maintain a registry for municipal ordinances that differ from those of the state, with local enforcement beginning 60 days after an ordinance is submitted in the registry. SB 577 also includes the following changes:
- Licensing fees for the sale of alcoholic beverages cannot be collected by county or municipal public health departments if an establishment already has a Retail Food Permit or is already licensed with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
- Persons who hold Certified Food Manager (CFM) certificates through a DSHS-accredited program cannot be required by local jurisdictions to pay for a local CFM certificate
- With the exception of surfaces on which food is prepared or eaten, establishments can no longer be penalized for not meeting the requirement for easily cleanable surfaces in a consumer dining area, as long as those surfaces are kept clean
- Public health departments can no longer restrict the type or quantity of packaging, utensils, or straws provided to customers, with the exception of requirements for food-contact surfaces under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code.
SB 812, also called the “Sergio Lopez Food Allergy Awareness Act,” requires foodservice establishments to display a food allergen awareness poster in an area where employees will regularly see it. DSHS will post an example poster on its website by December 2023, and Texas establishments are expected to comply with the requirement by September 1, 2024. The poster must be informed by current science, be updated as necessary, and include information about:
- The risk of a reaction to a food allergen
- Symptoms of an allergic reaction
- The major food allergens, as determined by federal law and FDA regulations
- Procedures for preventing an allergic reaction
- Appropriate responses for assisting an individual who is having an allergic reaction.
Additionally, DSHS-accredited CFM and food handler trainings must include food allergen awareness for certificates that are issued or renewed on or after September 1, 2024.