If you are in the business of handling, processing, or serving food, then you may have heard of a food handlers card. This card, sometimes referred to as a permit, certificate, or license, is a necessary requirement for food and dining establishments to be able to operate lawfully.
To get a food handlers card, employees, managers, or business owners, must take a course and answer some questions about the content. In most states, this course is conveniently online and covers food safety, personal hygiene, food temperature, sanitation, allergens, and much more.
If you’re about to enter the food industry in Texas, or your employer is asking you to get a food handlers card, here is everything you need to know.
Is A Food Handlers Card Required in Texas?
Many states throughout the United States require people working with food to have a food handlers card. Texas is one of them. In 2015, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TXDSHS) issued a rule that meant all employees working with food must undergo food handling training and be certified.
The rule came into effect for all employees who worked with unpackaged food, food utensils, food equipment, or food-contact surfaces, including kitchen staff, bartenders, hostesses, bussers, servers, and more.
Although, not just any food handling course would be sufficient. Instead, all food-handling employees must take a course that has been approved by the TXDSHS or accredited by ANSI, the American National Standards Institute.
Given the broad regulations around food handling, it’s not always clear who needs to have a food handlers card. However, the following criteria can be worth keeping in mind when you’re wondering if you need one.
You work as a:
- Head cook or cook
- General kitchen staff
- Host or hostess
- Supervisory personnel – general manager, manager
And/or, you work with:
- Unpackaged food
- Food equipment
- Food utensils
- Food contact surfaces
The waters can get a little murkier when you are the manager of a food establishment. If you have a Food Protection Manager Certification, you don’t require a food handlers card. However, suppose you don’t have that certification. In that case, you will be required to undertake and pass a food handling course to receive your food handlers card in Texas.
How To Get A Food Handlers Certification in Texas
As daunting as it can be to realize you have to get a food handlers card to work with food in Texas, it’s a straightforward process. Simply select an ANSI or TXDSHS approved program and ensure it’s accepted by local jurisdictions state-wide.
You can then pay a fee, learn the course content to serve you well in your line of work, and gain your food handlers certification in around 90 minutes. As a result of taking this course, you can become more attractive to prospective employers than applicants without their food handling permit.
It’s important to note that, according to Texas Food Establishment Rules, you must undertake an approved food handler training course within 60 days of commencing employment in a food handling business. Fortunately, given how manageable an online food handling certification course can be, that shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
Even if you don’t have a computer, you can likely access one at your local library or borrow one from a friend.
What You Learn in a Food Handler Course
Much of the content you learn in this online training course will serve you well in any food-handling tasks you carry out in your daily job. In fact, you can be a better employee for having gone through the educational process.
Foodborne illnesses and temperature and time relating to foodborne illnesses form an integral part of the course content. However, you also learn about personal hygiene related to food safety, food contamination prevention, cross-contamination prevention, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, and temperature control.
Most approved course content providers display all information in an easy-to-read online format with the option to also listen to your course content. If you happen to fail the course, you can immediately retake the test at no extra cost.
How Long Does a Texas Food Handlers Card Last?
Health and safety regulations are changing all the time. Even local health departments make significant changes that could change the way you conduct business. As a result, your Texas food handlers card is only valid for two years.
After that time, you must refresh your memory on the importance of safe food practices, retake the test, and be issued a new food handlers card. This food handlers card is valid throughout Texas at any food establishment.
How Much Is a Texas Food Handlers Certification?
How much you pay for your Texas food handlers certification can depend on the provider. Every approved provider can set their own rate and may even offer special deals or discounts.
At TABC Pronto, the Texas food handlers card, approved by the Texas State Board of Food Handlers, is just $6.99. However, you can also bundle it with TABC certification for $14.99, with the TABC certification costing $9.99 by itself. Having both may improve your employment prospects.
Get A Food Handlers Card by A Certified Provider
Whether you’re looking to renew your food handlers card or get one for the first time, it can be challenging to know where to look. How are you supposed to find a certified provider? And how do you even know what an accredited provider looks like?
Fortunately, both the ANSI National Accreditation Board and Texas Health and Human Services provide online lists of accredited food handler internet training programs. Your chosen program provider may not be on both lists, but they should be on at least one.
If they aren’t, they may not be accredited. In that case, you may like to find a food handler card provider that is, or contact ANSI or Texas Health and Human Services for help.
Once you’ve found a reputable, accredited program, you can carry out the certification process and receive your certificate after scoring at least 70% on the content questions.
Your certificate will include your name, TXDSHS license number, program name and address, training date, and certificate expiry date. You can print these out immediately after passing the course. Make sure you print off two copies – one for your records and one for your employer.
Get the Process Underway With TABC Pronto
Knowing how straightforward it is to get your food handlers card in Texas, it makes sense to get the process underway sooner rather than later. Follow these steps below, and you can be on your way to full certification for your food establishment in no time.
- Find an approved and accredited food handler internet training program like TABC Pronto.
- Buy the course components you need to get your food handlers card in Texas. Consider bundling it with TABC certification to save money on both courses.
- Read through the information, or listen to it, and answer questions as you go along. You can do this at your own pace. Most people complete the entire course in around 90 minutes.
In the instance of TABC Pronto, we have the fastest food handlers course allowed by Texas law and our online course has no final exam.