Here’s a compilation of some of the biggest stories affecting grocers for February 2017.
New Rules from TX Department of State Health Services on Food Handlers
Texas Food Establishment Rules adopted this past year (September 2016) have several new requirements for retail establishments. One of those areas of rule change is in article 228.33 (click here to review regulations) that now require a Certified Food Protection Manager on duty at all times when the store is open for business. In addition, an individual working with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or food-contact surfaces is required to take an accredited Food Handler training class.
Information on both Certified Food Protection Manager and Food Handler’s training classes is available at https://tx.foodprotectiontaskforce.com/.
Texas Department of Agriculture Fuel Calibration Regulation Takes Effect Jan. 1 2018
This past year, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) adopted new regulations regarding retail motor fuel dispensers (gas pumps). Retail motor fuel dispensers must be on a maintenance program where they are calibrated every two years by a certified service technician registered with TDA. The new regulation and compliance enforcement goes into effect January 1, 2018. The compliance penalties can be severe if your fuel dispensers aren’t calibrated, certified by registered technician and sent to TDA. Click here (see enclosure-Texas Dept of Ag ) to access the new regulation from TDA.
FMI Action Regarding Release of Individual Retailer SNAP Redemption Data
Judge grants stay and FMI’s motion to intervene. In late January, FMI (Food Marketing Institute) filed a motion to intervene in the Argus Leader court case, so that FMI could have the opportunity to appeal the November 30, 2016, decision on its own behalf. The motion was filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota by local counsel. FMI has announced that the court granted their motion in its entirety. The court has allowed FMI to intervene, granted a stay of its judgment, and has given FMI 15 days to file its notice of appeal.
Following the appeal by FMI, they then received confirmation from an attorney representing USDA, that USDA will not release the SNAP retail data until the appeal is resolved. The stay will remain in place until an appeal decision is issued. We will continue to monitor the appeal and report any movement on the case.
Texas WIC Program Starts Process to Move to Three Year Renewal Contract
This past December, Texas WIC sent out renewal packets to approximately one-third of their WIC Vendor Community. Due to several issues regarding the length of time to review and process the packets per individual location, Texas WIC was instructed to send out the packets in mid-December with a return date of January 12, 2017. In the future, WIC will not have to go out this early, and this was a one-time process in order to get the system set up, reviews handled, and technology in place. We can expect that the agency will be required to follow a timeline of starting the contract renewal process in May, possibly June, for the contract renewals for October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. Texas WIC is currently developing a Web Portal that would allow WIC Vendors to log on and correct information on each individual account, when needed. That is expected to be in place by 2018.
It is critical that Texas WIC has a key contact that includes correct e-mail address, office and cell phone numbers!
Reach out to Texas WIC Vendor Relations Outreach Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact the Vendor Relations Team Lead- Bessie Felton at Bessie.email@example.com or 512-341-4779.
SNAP Program Statistics Update
SNAP Program participation is showing very slight decrease from December to January in the new year. We’ve also enclosed the comparison last year from February 16 to March 16 as well as twelve month rolling average to give you some idea of what is expected in the next couple of months. Nationally SNAP Program enrollment as well as benefit dollars continue to decline from five percent to approaching six percent from last year. Enclosed are the latest numbers from USDA on our neighboring states.
TEXAS Current/Past Results
Month Cases Participates Total Dollars Ave. $ per case
Dec 16 1,654,411 3,912,257 $448,725,497.00 $271.00
Jan 17 1,648,030 3,811,968 $443,969,497.00 $269.00
Twelve Month Rolling Average
Dec-Jan 17 1,636,999 3,878,197 $444,904,444.00 $272.00
Look back-Last Year- 2015
Feb 16 1,600,141 3,796,125 $436,228,019.00 $273.00
Mar 16 1,596,574 3,783,594 $432,416,142.00 $271.00
NOV 16– Cases Participants Benefits
Nation (-04.9%) (-05.0%) (-05.8%)
Texas +03.8% +03.4% +03.2%
Louisiana +11.6% +09.6% +10.0%
Arkansas (-15.4%) (-11.8%) (-16.4%)
Oklahoma +0.7% +0.5% +1.7%