Are you planning to open a restaurant in Texas? If you hire employees, they may need a license or certification.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TXDSHS) requires nearly all employees who handle food to have a Texas food handler license from an accredited training program within 30 days of employment.1
Learn more about Texas food handler certification in this guide, which covers the following topics:
- Who needs a food handler license in Texas?
- How to get a Texas food handler license
- Texas food handler certification verification
- Texas food handler license fees
- How long does it take to get a food handler license in Texas?
- Texas food handler certificate renewal requirements
- Texas food handler license reciprocity
- Insurance requirements for Texas restaurants
Who needs a food handler license in Texas?
All of your employees who work with food, food equipment, utensils or food-contact surfaces must have a food handler certificate within 30 days of employment to meet local health jurisdiction requirements.2
This includes hosts, servers, bussers, on-site event coordinators, kitchen staff, bartenders and other employees at food service businesses.
One notable exception to the Texas food handling license requirement is the food protection manager, who must complete a separate certification process to act as a supervisor for the business’s food handlers.
At least one worker at every Texas food service business must be a food protection manager. If you don’t have any employees, you’ll need to get this certification.3
A few other individuals who are exempt from Texas food handling certificate requirements include:
- Employees at food establishments that only serve pre-packaged items
- People who help with activities of daily living, such as nurse assistants, nurses, etc.
- People who distribute pre-portioned food items in settings like classrooms or daycares
- Volunteers who work with food but are not employed by the food establishment
In addition to complying with Texas law, employing certified food handlers helps to protect your business. This process ensures that your employees are trained in proper food preparation and handling techniques, which reduces the risk of foodborne illness.4
How to get a Texas food handler license
Accredited courses cover a variety of topics related to proper food handling, including:5
- Foodborne illness
- Personal hygiene
- Time and temperature requirements
- Cross contamination prevention
- Cleaning and sanitizing
Participants must pass a test on the covered topics in order to successfully complete the course.
Texas food handler certification verification
After completing a course for food handler certification, Texas workers receive a food handler card in person, electronically or by mail. It’s your responsibility as the employer to keep an electronic or hard copy of every employee’s card onsite.
Each card must list the food handler program name and address and either a TXDSHS Accreditation License Number or ANSI number. If you need to verify an employee’s food handler certification, contact the program they used to get their card.
Texas food handler license fees
Texas food handler courses can be completed entirely online through an accredited program. In-person courses are also available in many cities across Texas. Typically, the cost for a course is around $10 to $20.
While some employers choose to cover the cost of certification for their employees, it is not required unless the worker earns at or close to the minimum wage or receives tips as part of their wages.6
How long does it take to get a food handler license in Texas?
The maximum length of Texas food handler certification courses is two hours.
As soon as the course is successfully completed, workers become certified food handlers. Courses are available on demand through numerous online training programs, and many offer an option to instantly print the certificate.5
Texas food handler certificate renewal requirements
Texas food handler certificates are valid for two years from the date they were issued. To renew the certification, you or your employees must retake the course, pass the test and receive a new card.
Texas food handler license reciprocity
Food handler cards issued by an accredited program in Texas are recognized statewide. Food handler cards issued outside the state of Texas receive reciprocity if they are from an ANSI-accredited program.
Insurance requirements for Texas restaurants
The right Texas business insurance can provide protection against different types of risks you face every day. Many Texas businesses consider a combination of these options:
General Liability insurance
Texas general liability insurance can help protect your business if you are held responsible for certain types of accidents, such as property damage or an injury to someone other than you or an employee.
Food service general liability insurance can also include foodborne illness coverage, which may help protect your business if customers get sick from food that is contaminated or prepared incorrectly.
Workers’ Compensation insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance can help provide important coverage for workplace injuries. Unlike most other states, Texas does not require businesses to carry workers’ comp insurance. However, businesses without coverage could be held responsible for expenses if an employee gets hurt on the job.
Commercial Property insurance
Commercial property insurance can help protect physical business assets, such as equipment, inventory, furniture and buildings. This insurance can help pay for repairs or replacements if your business property is damaged due to a covered event, such as a fire or water damage from a burst pipe.
Commercial Auto insurance
Commercial auto insurance can help cover medical expenses, property damage and other related costs if you or an employee are involved in an accident while driving a work vehicle.
The state of Texas requires all vehicles to have minimum auto insurance coverage of $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage.7
How NEXT Insurance supports Texas food handlers
NEXT provides tailored Texas restaurant insurance policies designed for small businesses and self-employed business owners.
It only takes about 10 minutes to get a quote, review your coverage options, choose your policies and download a certificate of insurance.
Our team of licensed insurance advisors is standing by to assist you if you have any questions along the way.
Start an instant quote online today.
Do you need food handler certification in another U.S. state? Visit our summary of food handler license requirements in every state.