How to beat a Restaurant Inspection
It can happen any time. It has happened to many restaurants. This is why being prepared is key to a successful inspection.
Expect It When You least Expect It
Annual health inspections have been a part of restaurant life since before coronaviruses became a problem. They help you to be on your toes and provide an impartial assessment of the safety and cleanliness in your restaurant. A health inspector could find violations and fine you, or even force you to close your doors until the conditions and safety of your food are improved. To be successful long-term, passing your annual inspection can save you huge fines, or worse, your reputation.
Make sure you are ready so that you can go!
It’s not the best feeling for restaurants to be ill-prepared for the arrival of the dreaded clipboard bearing inspector. On the other hand, being prepared is better than not being ready. Every state has its own regulations so make sure to review the FDA food safety codes.
A Checklist for Health Inspection
It’s important that you understand what the inspector is looking for. You can also self-inspect regularly. Below is a checklist to help you inspect your restaurant’s safety and health.
- Keep food stored at least 6 inches from the ground.
- Food must be kept in a clean, dry area.
- To store food, the FIFO system (First In, first Out) is used.
- Chemicals and food are kept separate.
Preparation and preparation of food
- Frozen foods can either be frozen in the refrigerator, or thawed under running water.
- Handling food requires that employees use gloves, clean hands, utensils, and gloves.
- Cross-contamination of food during preparation is discouraged.
- Food is heated to kill microorganisms prior to being placed into the hot holding area.
Maintenance of Refrigerators & Freezers
- The thermometer is easily visible and displays the temperature.
- All freezers and refrigerators are in perfect condition.
- All food is labeled and dates correctly.
- Food is stored at least 6 inches above the floor in walk-in refrigerators
- At the washing station, there are three distinct sections for washing, rinsing and sanitizing.
- The equipment is perfect to the touch and eye.
- Protect your stored utensils against dust and pollutants by covering them.
- Water is heated at the correct temperature to sterilize it.
Disposal of Refuse & Waste
- Toxic trash and garbage can be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.
- Outside trash cans can be covered with lids or covers.
- Once the recycling and garbage bins are full, they must be emptied.
- The dumpster area is free from rodents and other pests.
- Regular cleaning of trash bins is necessary to keep rodents and other pests away.
Safety and Health of Employees
- Employers use the correct hand-washing methods to wash their hands regularly
- You can only smoke and eat in designated areas, not the kitchens.
- Hairnets are worn by long-haired employees, while male employees cover their faces with hairnets
At inspection time, business owner requirements
The business owner must:
- Verify the credentials. If the inspector doesn’t present them to your satisfaction, it is a sign that you are being manipulated. You can also check with your local health department if you are still uncertain. This will prevent you from being tricked into giving out company information.
- Follow inspector: Take a look at the problems in your restaurant by following the inspector. Noting that some violations can be rectified immediately is important. These infractions will be marked on the spot as rectified, which is better than an out-of compliance label.
- Sign inspection report After reviewing all comments in the restaurant inspection checklist, sign the inspection document. This does not mean you are in agreement with the conclusions. It simply proves you have been given a copy.
- Get clarity: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t get the explanation. It is impossible to resolve an issue if you don’t understand it.
It doesn’t matter what… even if it is your worst moment, it is best to not deny an inspector. This will cause additional delays. Soon, the inspector will return with an inspection warrant and a more likely sour disposition. It is best not to give the inspector food or drink. It is best to be kind and friendly with the inspector, but nothing more can be taken as a bribe in order to influence the inspection report.
What happens if you are convicted of a food safety offense?
Do not panic if you get a violation. You should immediately seek a solution and get it implemented quickly. It’s possible to fix the problem in a given time frame, even if the violation is minor, like improper labeling or unkempt furnishings. Although you won’t be penalized financially for the violation, you will be subject to a follow up inspection. This time, make sure to inform your staff, stress food safety, and check your employee’s knowledge.
If you are found guilty of a more serious offense, such as cross-contamination or improper cooking, you could face a penalty and the business may be closed until you resolve the matter.