Confusion over new food truck regulations leads San Marcos to host health code open house events

Health code open houses will be held in February to update food establishment owners on the new state rules.

Health code open houses will be held in February to update food establishment owners on the new state rules.

The city of San Marcos is hosting a series of open houses to inform food establishment owners of the state health code changes the city will implement two years after its passing.

The Texas Department of State Health Services enacted new rules for food establishments in 2015, called the Texas Food Establishment Rules. But the city has been holding the approximately 400 permitted food establishments to the 2006 food establishment rules, until now.

The 2015 rules includes stricter requirements for mobile food vendors on items such as water and wastewater holding tanks; restrooms; potable water sources; the use of dumpsters; cleaning and servicing operations; and being stationary rather than reporting daily to a “central preparation facility” for supplies.

Jeff Caldwell, San Marcos' neighborhood services director who oversees the departments of environmental health and code compliance, said staffers began contacting businesses that were not complying with the 2006 rules and letting them know that starting in October the city would be inspecting food trucks based on the 2015 rules.

In a news release on the open houses, the city said it would be adopting updated rules and guidelines to its local ordinances pertaining to food establishments following consideration by City Council later in 2018.

These stricter restrictions caught some food truck owners at The Hitch by surprise last year, when city staff reportedly began enforcing the 2015 regulations. This caused some food truck owners—who were complying with the 2006 regulations—to close and others to relocate. The Hitch property, owned by John David Carson, is now vacant.

Carson said in November he would be happy to attend the meetings. He also called for the city to put in place a specific ordinance related to the allowance of food trucks in San Marcos.

The meetings will be held in Room 3 of the San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins St., and are open to the public as well as food establishment owners. The schedule is as follows:

Feb. 6 and Feb. 8

  • 9 a.m.: Fixed food establishments and custodial inspections

  • 2 p.m.: Mobile food establishments and food truck parks

  • 5:30 p.m.: Public meeting—updates to the city ordinance and temporary food establishments

Feb. 7

  • 9 a.m.: Mobile food establishments and food truck parks

  • 2 p.m.: Fixed food establishments

For more information, contact the city of San Marcos Code Compliance-Environmental Health Division at [email protected] or 512-393-8440.


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