Consumer Health Services is responsible for the permitting, inspection, investigation and enforcement of rules and regulations that govern food establishments, on-site sewage facilities, swimming pools and public health nuisances.
- Food Service Establishments inspections and permitting
- See our brochure on Protecting Yourself when Dining Out
- General sanitation complaint investigations (illegal dumping / high weeds and grass)
- On-site sewage facilities inspections and permitting (We are the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality designated representatives)
- Public and semi-public swimming pools inspections
- Sexually Oriented Business inspections
- Training programs in food safety and swimming pool operation
Hot Topics for Restaurants
Light Colors Required
Current food service regulations require that walls and ceilings in specified areas be “light in color.” Those areas are walk-in refrigeration units, food preparation areas, equipment washing and utensil washing areas, toilet rooms and vestibules. We have locally determined that light in color means a light reflectance value (LRV) of 50 or higher. The LRV is essentially a measure of how much light is reflected from a surface. The higher the LRV the more light that will reflect from the surface.
All new construction must comply with this “light color” requirement. Existing darker colors will be allowed to remain in place until the next remodel of the surface, change of ownership or a noted inability to keep the surface clean.
Lighting is an important factor to consider when planning a food establishment. Proper lighting is needed to identify dirt and clean surfaces effectively. Lighting is equally important for safety when employees work with knives and saws. Lighting helps employees identify changes in food colors that can signal food adulteration or the beginnings of food spoilage.
Minimum regulatory lighting requirements range from 10 foot candles to 50 foot candles (Fc) depending upon where or what activity is taking place in the establishment. A Fc is simply a measure of lighting intensity with the high numbers being brighter lighting.
The lowest minimum lighting requirements of 10 Fc can be found in walk-in refrigerators and dry storage areas. A 20 Fc intensity is required in customer self service areas, where packaged food is sold, restrooms or in reach in coolers. The 50 Fc requirement is to be provided where employees work with food or works with knives, slicers, grinders or saws where employee safety Is a factor. Lighting intensity is measured with electronic light meters.
Recontamination of Hands
New to the regulations is a requirement that employees not re-contaminate their hands after properly washing their hands. The rules specifically states that “to avoid re-contaminating their hands or surrogate prosthetic devices, food employees may use disposable paper towels or similar clean barriers when touching surfaces such as manually operated faucet handles on a hand washing sink or the handle of a restroom door.”
Other ways to avoid touching faucets is to use faucets that are motion activated or activated with knee or foot pedals. Many doors can be equipped with foot pulls mounted at the base of the door. The point is to do your best to avoid re-contaminating ones hands after they have been properly washed.
Vomit/Diarrheal Clean-up Procedures
Each food establishment should have a written vomit/diarrheal clean-up plan if such an event were to take place in the food service establishment. This is important because a food foodborne illness organism called Norovirus may be responsible for as many as 50% of all identified foodborne illnesses. This virus can be spread easily from contaminated surfaces or aerosolized virus particles. The Cleanup Procedures for Vomit/ Fecal Events may be used as your plan.