How does a health inspection work?

How does a health inspection work?

Although there will be different regulations in different countries regarding public health inspections you can still expect certain things no matter where your home is.

The health inspector can visit your place at any time and without notice. A health inspector is required to inspect the premises at least six times per year. If a customer complains, however, they are also required to inspect the premises.

Before you allow them into your home, be sure to ask for their credentials. It’s not uncommon for people to impersonate health and safety inspectors. If their behavior seems suspicious, you can call your local department of health to verify that they are authorized. Make sure your staff is trained so that they can do the same for you if you’re not there.

What does a health inspector look for during an inspection of a building?

You can find the food inspection criteria of your local health department on their website.

Food contamination

Your food will be inspected by a health inspector to ensure it is properly stored and protected from contamination. Raw foods should be kept separated from ready to eat food, while ingredients should be kept in food grade containers with tight fitting lids. Storing unsavory items close to your food, such as cleaning chemicals, or personal belongings, can get you in trouble.

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  • Food is kept unprotected
  • Your food is being kept too close to ground in your storage room
  • You’re using inappropriate containers
  • You aren’t required to label food with use-by dates
  • Your menu descriptions are misleading. For example, you have not disclosed that nuts are present in your menu.
  • When preparing ready to eat foods, employees don’t need gloves
  • Your pantry should contain cleaning products that are near food.
  • You store table linens and other utensils incorrectly
  • It is a violation of the Food Handlers Act to allow food handlers to use their phones while they are preparing food (on countertops or cutting boards).
  • You are storing raw ingredients under the dripping meat.

Pests are a common problem near storage facilities

Temperature control

Food poisoning can often be caused by unsafe temperatures being maintained on your ingredients. Health inspectors will spend much time inspecting your food’s temperature and storage areas.

They will also want to see proof that temperature checking is done on a regular basis and information about your temperature measurement devices.

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  • Unsafe food temperatures
  • There are dangerous foods left out in public
  • Temperature control doesn’t protect display foods
  • The temperature in storage rooms is not right
  • It isn’t possible to follow proper heat procedures. Inspectors will ask employees to tell them what temperature they used to heat food and for how long, in order to confirm that it reached 165°F (73.8°C).
  • Refrigerators are not adequate (for example, you’re using domestic fridges).
  • There is no temperature-checking log
  • There is no temperature measurement device readily available
  • Foods should be left outside following delivery.
  • Frozen food deliveries can be partially thawed


Handwashing seems simple if you’re a food safety expert. However, it’s astonishing how many restaurants fail their health inspections simply because they don’t have adequate handwashing facilities.

Inspectors will also check that food handlers follow proper hygiene while preparing meals. That means clean aprons.

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  • Food handlers are not required to have a valid food safety certificate
  • Food handlers often have untied or dirty hair.
  • The kitchen is a smoking zone.
  • Food handlers with open wounds and rashes touch food
  • Food handlers won’t wash their hands after they start food prep.
  • There isn’t a separate handwashing area.
  • It isn’t possible to get warm running water to wash your hands.
  • You are too far away from the areas where you prepare food.
  • No liquid soap and no disposable paper towels are available at your handwashing station
  • You can’t throw out paper towels.
  • The handwashing station at the sink is not accessible
  • Other uses of the handwashing basin include cleaning utensils, etc.

General cleanliness

A dirty kitchen breeds bacteria. Make sure that all floors, walls and ceilings are cleaned and that no pests or mold are present. It is also important to ensure that food wastes are properly disposed off.

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  • There are grease, dirt and oil on the floors, the walls, and the benches
  • An excessive amount of food waste is found on benches, inside fryers and ovens.
  • Vermin or insects may be present
  • It is not possible to dispose of garbage properly. Bags can be left on the street, or the garbage facilities aren’t covered.
  • Garbage isn’t being emptied regularly
  • Garbage is stored in cool rooms and food storage areas.
  • The kitchen doesn’t have adequate ventilation. This means that smoke, fumes, steam and other irritants are still present.


If you have signs that your staff is sick while handling food, you can bet your business will be punished. According to the CDC 20% of food workers admit to working at least one shift while experiencing contagious symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Many times, this is because food workers do not know how to take sick leave. Do not allow your venue to be included in this statistic.

You will likely be asked questions by a health inspector about foodborne illness to ensure you are fully informed on the consequences of employees working while they are sick.

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  • You may notice that your staff is not properly handling food if they are sick.
  • If you are questioned by staff, they will not know your standards of hygiene and health.
  • Insufficient lighting is a problem in your kitchen