Texas Food Handler Card: The Course, Assessment, and Certification

This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.

People working in food service in the state of Texas require food safety certification. However, the regulations for this are relatively new, having been amended as recently as 2017.

Given that recency, it’s worth having an understanding of some of the steps involved in the process. Making sure all of your staff follows the necessary requirements can help your restaurant continue to run smoothly.

Texas Food Handler Card Law Requirements

In Texas, the main law regulating food safety training is Rule 229.178. Some of the main points in this law are:

Timing and Validity

When it comes to preparing your staff for their training course, there are a couple of timeframes they should consider:

  • 60 days – Any new employee is expected to complete training and be certified within 60 days of being hired.
  • Two years – In the state of Texas, all certification should be valid for two years unless otherwise stated.

Once employees receive their certification, it should be valid throughout the entire state of Texas, regardless of what county it was issued in.

More: A full checklist of everything you need to start a restaurant 

Who Needs a Card?

The term “food handler” generally covers people who work with:

  • Unpackaged food
  • Utensils
  • Food equipment
  • Food contact surfaces

However, there are some exceptions where employees may not need a food handler card. These include:

  • A person with certified food manager training
  • Temporary kitchen workers in a Department of State Health Services (DSHS) jurisdiction
  • Businesses that offer only pre-packaged food
  • Businesses that sell whole, uncut fruits and vegetables
  • Food processing plants
  • Private kitchens
  • Bed and Breakfast Limited facilities

Acceptable Courses

Senate Bill 1089 includes the following as acceptable courses:

If you have further interest in how a course becomes accredited by the state of Texas, many of the requirements are covered in Chapter 438 of the Health and Safety Code and the DSHS licensing FAQ page. It can be helpful to check with local experts as you navigate this process.

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About the Course

Once your employee has decided on a course, it may help them to know what to expect. While individual courses may differ slightly, here is generally what to expect.


To be accredited in the state of Texas, food handler training include a review of:

  • Foodborne disease outbreak
  • Good hygiene practices
  • Preventing contamination
  • Cross-contamination
  • Time and temperature

Length of the Course

The exact length of the training course will vary depending on what course your employee chooses. However, courses generally should not be longer than two hours.

Exam Requirements

At the end of the training course, expect your employee to take an exam before they can receive their certification. The requirements for passing this exam will be determined by the specific course, but most require 70% – 75% correct answers to pass. Most courses will also allow a student to retake their exam if they do not meet this threshold on their first attempt.

Cost of the Course

Texas law does not set a standard cost so this will also be left up to the individual program. That said, most courses will be priced between $5 and $15.