Environmental Health and Safety

Drinking Water and Food Safety

The mission of the Food Safety program is to ensure that the food and drinking water provided on campus are safe for consumption. EHS staff is responsible for conducting food safety inspections of the permitted food vendors and kitchen facilities on campus, approving distribution of food on campus by staff, students, or vendors, and ensuring quality drinking water.

For more information or to report a safety concern regarding drinking water or foodstuffs, please call 512-471-3511.

Drinking Water Safety


In what situations might EHS take a water sample for bacteriological testing?

What are the procedures for?

Water Main Repairs (Outdoors):  If a water main breaks on campus, Facilities (Utilities) will notify EHS immediately and let EHS know when a sample may be taken after the pipe/parts have been spray/swabbed with disinfected (1% hypochlorite) and flushed per AAWA Standard 4.7.2. 

Facilities/Utilities will make arrangements to flush line. Flushing should be conducted at the appropriate fire hydrant(s) between the main break and the buildings served. Flushing may also be necessary in the interior of the building.

EHS will check chlorine levels (<4.0 ppm) and take a sample to a lab (TDSHS or LCRA) for bacteriological testing.

New Installation:  New lines should be disinfected and flushed per AAWA 4.4.4.  Utilities will notify EHS to determine if water samples should be taken.

Suspected Cross Connections:  Facilities/Utilities will notify EHS and samples will be taken to lab.

Water Line Repairs (Indoors):  If a water line breaks indoors, bacteriological water samples will not normally be taken unless it is suspected that the line repair may have contaminated the building water supply.  For example, a line break in a bathroom.  Facilities will be responsible for notifying EHS.

Low Water Pressure:  If low water pressure (< 20 psi) exists in a building, Facilities will notify EHS.  EHS will make a determination if water testing is warranted.

Building Water Turned Off:  If the water is turned off to a building for more than 24 hours, Facilities will notify EHS.  EHS will make a determination if water testing is warranted.

Indoor Water Quality Complaints:  If a water quality complaint comes into EHS, EHS will investigate to determine if bacteriological testing is warranted.  If sampling is warranted, EHS will immediately take the sample to the Texas DSHS lab for testing.

What about drinking water notices?

As a best practice, drinking water from buildings that is being tested should not be consumed until satisfactory testing results have returned from the laboratory.  Drinking Water notices will be mandatory in health sensitive buildings such as the Day Care centers, UT Elementary and University Health Services. As appropriate, EHS will post signs at drinking water fountains and break rooms indicating that water should not be consumed.  In buildings with multiple water supply lines, EHS will work with Facilities to determine what building sections will be covered by the outage.  If notices are posted, Facilities will notify building managers and occupants.  

What if testing shows a problem?

If water test results come back positive, EHS will immediately notify Facilities or Utilities.  EHS will immediately post signs at drinking water fountains and break rooms indicating that water should not be consumed.  Samples will be immediately retaken to the Texas DSHS lab.

Who should I call if I am concerned about my drinking water?

Contact Rachel Lebansky or Dennis Nolan at 471-3511.

Food Safety

Food Distribution Form (for temporary food services)

Only submit a form to EHS for Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF). PHF is food that if handled or prepared improperly can cause a foodborne illness. Examples of PHF:

Do not submit a form for food that is not potentially hazardous, such as:

Submit the Food Distribution Form to EHS at least 7 days prior to the event. A form is required anytime an event is planned where PHF is going to be distributed to others on campus such as a student organization wanting to grill and distribute burgers to passersby at the West Mall. Authorization is required whether you prepare the food yourself or arrange for a caterer.

Personnel handling PHF must follow these sanitation requirements.

Food Service Establishment Permitting (for permanent food services)

Permitted Food Service Establishments — see our norovirus food safety alert and norovirus fact sheet.

Download our Keep Safe flyer (54KB PDF).

All establishments that prepare and serve food at the University must be permitted through EHS. EHS routinely inspects all Food Service Establishments at the University for compliance with the Texas Food Establishment Rules 25 TAC 229.161 — 229.171, 229.173 — 229.175 (Rules). The permitting procedures are as follows:

Mobile Vending Requirements

All mobile vendors who sell food on campus must have a permit issued by UT Austin EHS to operate.

Food Service Establishment Inspections

Standard Operating Procedures

Food Establishment Inspection Report Form

Concessions Food Safety Training

OH 210: Concessions Food Safety (EID required)

Food Handlers Online Training

Any food establishment worker at the University can take this training developed by UT’s Division of Housing and Food Safety (DHFS) for free. If you are not a DHFS employee, send the Confirmation Form to EHS after completing the training modules and the test.


Hepatitis Information

Tailgating Food Safety Tips

See Have a Winning Tailgate! from The Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Useful Links