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Health officials release guidelines for Houston restaurants affected by boil water notice

Several Houston restaurants and bars are also under a boil water advisory due to the massive water break in east Houston.

HOUSTON — We have been getting a lot of questions from viewers wanting to know if the drinks and ice are safe to consume at Houston restaurants under the boil water notice. 

According to the Houston Health Department, food service establishments that did not have water or flushing toilets due to the massive water main break in east Houston Thursday were directed by the Houston Health Department to immediately cease operations. 

Those restaurants who did have running water were issued the same boil water advisory as residents. 

Employees must too must boil water for at least two minutes. Large volumes of water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least three to five minutes, according to the Houston Health Department. 

RELATED: Bottled water flying from the shelves in Houston. Here's how some business are keeping stock.

RELATED: Boil water notice: Here's what you need to know

A food facility manager is responsible for conducting both the initial and ongoing assessments to ensure compliance with food safety requirements.

Restaurants and bars could use alternative sources of drinking water such as:

  • Commercially bottled water
  • Arrange to use a licensed potable drinking water tanker truck

What about beverages made with piped water and ice?

Restaurants and bars should discontinue use of post-mic carbonated beverage machine, auto-fill coffee makers, instant hot water heaters, etc. Restaurants are going to want to also replace, remove or clean any filters that may have been connected to water lines. 

According to the Houston Health Department, restaurants should stop making ice until the boil water notice is lifted, and discard existing ice made after the boil water notice has been lifted. 

What about food made with water?

Ready-to-eat food prepared with water prior to the boil water notice should be thrown away. All food should be prepared with commercially used bottled or boiled water until the boil water notice is lifted. 

How are restaurants supposed to clean their dishes?

Commercial dishwashers generally are safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 165°F–180°F.

If restaurants are not able to use disposable plates, cups, and utensils and do not have a dishwasher, they can wash dishes by hand following these instructions:

  • Wash and rinse the dishes as you normally would using hot water wash, rinse and sanitize method.
  • Soak the rinsed dishes in the water for at least 1 minute.
  • Let the dishes air dry completely before using.

For more information about the boil water notice at food establishments, visit the Houston Health Department's website