NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When you go out to eat you must entrust the people in and around the kitchen to safely handle the food you put in your mouth.
The State of Texas is about to require all food handlers to know the rules, instead of just hearing about them from the boss.
Another responsibility is to comply with stricter food handler regulations by September 1.
"I would use gloves at all times," an instructor told a class in Nacogdoches.
The current mandate allows managers to go back and teach their employees food handler rules.
However, come September, that all changes. Kitchen staff, bussers, hostesses, bartenders, bar-backs and others will have to take and pass a 2 1/2 hour food handler course and test.
"Everybody that is preparing food, touching food, anything to do with the food, for the safety of the consumer they now have to have that 2 1/2 hour class and that's called the food handlers class."
It means more expense for employers and more study for employees. Even so, within the industry there's a willingness to comply.
"The changes that are being made are obviously for health reasons, so it is very important," said Mark Parbs, the area supervisor for GVCS, a Whataburger franchisee.
Also important are food inspection changes. New inspection forms will create the evaluation of many more items.
Enforcement of the state regulations will go into effect in September, but cities like Nacogdoches can adopt their own recommendations, and they can be stronger than the states'. The new recommendations will be studied sometime this summer.
In the meantime, Claudann Jones, a Texas A&M Agrilife extenstion agent, has food handler courses scheduled as early as next month. Those already in the industry can meet compliance. Also job hunters have an opportunity to build their food service resumes.
Food handler certification courses are available online, but family consumer science agents warn users to double check the accreditation.
Some are not approved by the State of Texas.
County extension offices offer off-line courses.