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
- Water main repairs due to a broken water main
- New installation or repair of outdoor water lines
- Suspected cross-connections
- Indoor water quality complaints
- Other situations as appropriate
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.
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.
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.
Contact Rachel Lebansky or Dennis Nolan at 471-3511.
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:
- beef fajitas
- chicken salad
- grilled hamburgers
- submarine sandwiches
- chef salads
- sausage wraps
Do not submit a form for food that is not potentially hazardous, such as:
- bake sale items (e.g., cake, cookies, brownies)
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.
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:
- For authorization to operate a Food Service Establishment on campus, first call the Texas Union at 512-475-6600 or your other University contact.
- After authorization from the Texas Union, call EHS at 512-471-3511 and ask for the Food Safety Section.
- The Food Safety Inspector will make an appointment to visit and inspect your Food Service Establishment and to go over the Rules.
- When the requirements of the Rules are met, a permit will be issued.
- Every Food Service Establishment permit expires at the end of the calendar year.
- A new permit will be created for all established Food Service Establishments at the beginning of each calendar year.
- The permit must be posted in a prominent location within the kitchen area.
All mobile vendors who sell food on campus must have a permit issued by UT Austin EHS to operate.
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.
- Pro-Med — Latest information from a program of the International Society of Infectious Diseases which monitors emerging diseases.
- CDC — Information on Hepatitis A from the CDC, National Center for Infectious Diseases
See Have a Winning Tailgate! from The Partnership for Food Safety Education.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook
- CDC Food Safety Office
- CDC Health Topic: Foodborne Illnesses
- CDC Travelers Health: Safe Food and Water
- CDC Nutrition and Physical Activity: Healthy Eating Tips
- CDC Five a Day for Better Health
- Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response and Surveillance Team
- Texas Food Establishment Rules
- University Health Services — Health Promotion and Educational Services
- The Franklin Institute — Healthy Eating for Healthy Living