It’s a stressful time for restaurant owners everywhere when the health inspector shows up. Everyone is on high alert and is working to make sure everything is perfect so that the business does not get a citation or low score. Especially with extra precautions in place due to COVID-19, it’s an important time to make sure everything in your kitchen is in tip-top shape.
Health inspections occur about one to four times per year, so it’s best to understand food codes and know how to clean to exceed standards. If you are constantly exceeding standards, you won’t feel crazed and anxious when the health inspector shows up unannounced. Your restaurant will need to follow FDA regulations, as well as state and local health department food codes. Depending on which state your facility is in, health inspectors will be checking on food safety and food manager certifications. Consider giving your employees an opportunity to refresh their skills and certifications through Always Food Safe®.
There are several specific areas the health inspector will be looking at when they pay your facility a visit. They need to make sure everything is up to code, which means making sure appliances are up to code, the facility is clean, food is being stored properly and cooked to the proper temperature and employees are following proper hand hygiene and food safety measures. The most common violations seen include:
- Food temperatures in the unsafe “temperature danger zone”
- Incorrect food storage
- Cross contamination
- Poor personal hygiene
- Poor kitchen sanitation
All of these violations are easily avoided with a few simple, yet important measures. For starters, your employees should all be trained on proper food handling practices and appropriate hand hygiene. There should be easily accessible hand washing stations located throughout the facility. Employees should have access to gloves, hair nets and beard nets as needed. Cleaning supplies should be well-stocked so that employees can sanitize surfaces to remove them from dirt, dust, food particles and other debris. Everyone should have a clear understanding about what needs to be cleaned, how frequently and by whom. Check out this free, 15-minute video from Always Food Safe covering the most important food safety considerations during COVID-19.
You can solve several food storage and cross contamination issues with food safety labels. Removable food rotation labels allow for organized, easily labeling so all employees know what the food item is, when it was prepped and what temperature it was stored at, when it needs to be used by and who prepped it. Not only does this allow you to monitor temperatures and keep track of a food item’s shelf life, it will help you prevent excessive food waste. If you want to take the guesswork out of trying to read these handwritten labels, you can also utilize the Date Code Genie® system. The automated, customized labels provide the consistency that health inspectors love.
Remember that health inspectors are not coming to visit you to shut down your operation. They are trying to protect consumers by ensuring you are following state and local regulations. Follow these tips to ensure you get a high score.