The Bi-City-County Health District would like to make you aware of some very important changes to the TFER that will affect your food establishment operations. The new TFER was formally adopted by the State of Texas and the Amarillo Bi-City-County Health District on October 11, 2015. The Department of Environmental Health is currently using the new TFER regulations to evaluate compliance of food establishments in our District. The new TFER is now based on the 2013 FDA Model Food Code. In order to assist you with the new requirements, you would like to provide you with a brief summary of some of the more important changes.
How are health inspections completed?
Inspections conducted by the Environmental Health Department are unannounced and occur when the facilities are open. Environmental Health Specialists have the primary responsibility of inspecting facilities that provide food to the public. These food establishments are divided into three categories based on risk.
Risk Category I (Low Risk):
Examples include most convenience store operations, coffee shops and establishments that serve or sell only pre-packaged, non-time/temperature control for safety (TCS) foods. Category 1 can also include establishments that prepare only non-TCS foods, establishments that heat only commercially processed TCS foods for hot holding and do not cool any TCS foods for later use. Category 1 can also include an establishment that would otherwise be grouped in Category 2 but has shown through historical documentation to have achieved active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors. A category 1 establishment shall not have any “valid” complaint investigations within the past year.
- Inspection frequency: Not less than 2 inspection per calendar year.
Risk Category II (Medium Risk):
Examples may include retail food store operation or a full service restaurant in which most products are prepared/cooked and served immediately. A Category 2 can also include a retail food store operation or a full service restaurant that has hot and cold holding of TCS foods after preparation or cooking, and/or has limited complex preparation of TCS foods requiring cooking, cooling and reheating for hot holding. Category 2 can also include establishments that would otherwise be grouped in Category 3 but have shown through historical documentations to have achieved active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors or newly permitted establishments that would otherwise be grouped in Category 1 until history of active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors can be achieved and documented.
- Inspection frequency: Not less than 3 inspections per calendar year.
Risk Category III (High Risk):
Examples may include food establishments serving highly susceptible populations, such as public and private schools, child care kitchens, medical facilities and full service restaurants with extensive menu and/or handling of raw ingredients. Category 3 may also include establishments with complex preparations including cooking, cooling and reheating for hot holding that involves many TCS foods or establishments that conduct specialized processes like smoking & curing and reduced oxygen packaging for extended shelf-life. Category 3 can also include any establishment with two inspections over 30 demerits, two “valid” complaint investigations within 1 calendar year or 1 “confirmed” food or waterborne illness outbreak within 1 year. Category 3 can also include any establishment that has shown through historical documentation to have 3 consecutive repeat Priority or Priority Foundation violations that are the same. Category 3 can also include establishments that would otherwise be grouped in Category 2 until history of active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors is achieved and documented.
- Inspection frequency: Not less tan 4 inspections per calendar year.
What does the health inspection mean?
- A score of A/100 is EXCELLENT - no violations were seen at the time of inspection
- A score of B/85 could be considered an average number
- A score of F/69 or below is considered failing and requires a re-inspection within 24 hours
Major violations consist of improper cooking techniques or practices that could result in food borne illnesses. The first group of major violations include not re-heating food properly, not keeping food hot enough, not keeping food cold enough, and not cooking food to proper temperatures. The second group of major violations includes other practices by employees that could cause food borne illnesses. Examples of these violations include not washing hands properly, no soap and paper towels at hand sinks, or improperly storing chemicals. Establishments correct major violations during inspections. Environmental Health Specialists frequently conduct follow-up inspections to verify compliance. Core violations are items that do not result in any significant demerits, but must be corrected by the food establishment. Examples of these violations include walls, floors, ceilings, not clean or not in good repair.