Restaurant Health Inspection Survival Guide

Prepare, Pass and Recover From Restaurant Health Inspections

How to prepare, pass and recover from Restaurant Health Inspections.

Customers typically research a Restaurant Health Inspection Survival before they dine, especially if this is their first time. 94% of diners will search online reviews to assess the restaurant’s location, menu offerings, prices and overall rating. If ratings are low it’s possible that diners may look elsewhere for their dining needs.

What determines a restaurant’s rating? Dining customers often take into account the restaurant’s health inspection score when making their selection. In fact, some customer review sites even include these scores on their restaurant review pages for easy reference.

Many aspects of health inspections are determined by local laws, but most often adhere to the most recent FDA Food Code. Before dining out, customers are encouraged to research restaurant inspections in their vicinity.

This article contains essential information to help restaurant owners pass their next health inspection. It also offers guidelines that they can use to successfully pass the next round of inspections.

What time can health inspectors inspect your restaurant?

Health inspections are typically conducted randomly, approximately once every six months. Inspectors can visit any time of the week on days when a business is open for business without prior notification; for instance, they may arrive at 7:30 AM to observe the opening procedure if it doesn’t open by 8 a.m., or stay until 8:30 pm to observe the closing procedure if they don’t close by 9 p.m.

Are Health Inspectors Required to Posses a Warrant?

Health inspectors do not need a warrant in order to inspect a property as they enforce civil laws, not criminal ones. Marshall v. Barlow’s Inc. and other legal precedents have established that “pervasively-regulated businesses” such as restaurants are exempt from Fourth Amendment protections which require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant prior to inspection.

Congress has granted the FDA broad authority to inspect food service establishments at reasonable times and within reasonable boundaries, providing for warrantless inspections that adhere to these principles.

What are the primary factors health inspectors look for?

Any obvious signs of uncleanliness, such as bad smells, dirty countertops and trash should be addressed right away. Inspectors inspect restaurants for many factors that contribute to cleanliness – they will check handwashing techniques, food handling skills, storage techniques and more.

Accurate Handwashing

According to FDA regulations, proper handwashing must be observed in any situation that “contaminates hands”.

If you are entering a kitchen area for food preparation, before wearing single-use, clean gloves to work with food or between glove changes

  • Before beginning to cook,
  • Be sure to handle clean equipment or serving utensils beforehand.
  • When changing your tasks, it is possible to switch between working with ready-to-eat and raw foods.
  • Handling soiled dishes, equipment or utensils is not advised.

You should never touch any exposed parts of a person’s body–like parts other than your hands–without first obtaining permission from their owner.

Once you finish using the toilet, coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, you may continue to cough, sneeze, blowing your nose, chew tobacco, eating or drinking as usual.

After handling or caring for animals or aquatic creatures such as molluscans shellfish crustaceans displayed in tanks;

Hand sanitizing wipes can be useful when soap and water aren’t readily accessible, or to provide additional protection after handwashing.

Proper handling of cooked foods also requires the use of these wipes for sanitation.

Even if food items have been cooked properly, that doesn’t guarantee they’re free from cross-contamination. Proper handling techniques must be employed for both cooked and ready-to-eat foods; according to the United States Department of Agriculture, cooked food safety methods include:

  • Cooking Meat at the Correct Temperature
  • Quick cooling of food after preparation
  • Keep food out of danger zones
  • Reheat leftovers by heating immediately after thawing or freezing frozen leftovers

Store remaining food safely: refrigerate or freeze any leftovers when possible. Here are some helpful practices when cooking meat:

When cooking meat, The USDA suggests the following:

Before removing any from the heat source, cook all beef, pork, lamb and veal chops or roasts to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, all raw ground beef, pork or lamb should be cooked until 160 degrees F.

Poultry: All poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature between 165 and 165 degrees F, as measured with a food thermometer.

Make sure the food comes from an approved source for this purpose.

FDA guidance should provide restaurants with a list of approved food sources they can use to source their meals. Restaurants can further ensure the safety of their food by purchasing only certified organic items.

  • From manufacturing plants
  • Distributors or suppliers
  • Local, regional and international growers
  • Clearly labeled food storage boxes

Labelling food items in a commercial kitchen or restaurant will differ from that done at home. All time- and temperature-controlled items must be clearly labeled with the following information:

  • Name and type
  • Employee responsible for prepping the item
  • Date/Time food was prepared.
  • Foods that cannot be date-stamped expire quickly.
  • Correct Concentration of Dishwasher Sanitizer

Dishwashers often fail to clean effectively until their concentration of disinfectant has been properly reached.

It is essential to assess the sanitation capabilities of industrial dishwashers in restaurants as part of a health inspection process.

Chemical Dishwasher Employees should run a test load of dishes through the dishwasher to confirm it’s working. To test final rinse water concentration, use either sanitizer paper or strip; depending on what kind of agent is used, test parameters may differ. For more information, refer to FDA guidelines.

High Temperature Dishwasher Monitoring: Employees should monitor the temperature dials on a dishwasher throughout its entire cycle. When in rinse mode, make sure the dial reaches 171 degrees F. A high-temperature probe thermometer should then be used to test the machine when loaded with dishes; it must read at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Floors, walls and ceilings must be kept spotless.

Cleaning floors is relatively straightforward. Walls and ceilings, however, present more challenges when it comes to grease removal. To make things simpler, keep a degreasing cloth handy throughout the day for quick deep-cleaning at the end of each shift. To guarantee proper sanitation, make sure all surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned prior to beginning sanitation procedures.

To protect customers and employees, restaurants must ensure their floors are kept spotless. Furthermore, you must guarantee the interior meets industry standards and passes health inspections.

What happens if you fail a health inspection?

If the issue is minor, you may be given an opportunity to address it promptly. However, if the situation worsens, you could face additional inspections, fines and possibly closure of your venue.

Bear in mind that once your facility has been rated, it will be listed on an internet database. This database holds information about any health code violations you’ve ever had. These databases may also be integrated with restaurant review sites, so a poor rating could limit how well potential customers perceive you.

Once your grade is issued, typically there is a time period in which to address any issues. Here are the steps that need to be taken in order to rectify your health violations.

  • Re-inspections for violations should take place between 5 and 45 days.
  • Discover the cause of each violation and take steps to avoid repeating it.
  • Discuss any findings with your staff members and determine appropriate corrective actions that need to be taken.

If you are not satisfied with the violation, appeal it. You can reach the supervisor of the inspector by calling your local health department.

Employee Training

Here are 10 ways to train staff members on good sanitation and hygiene practices so they can retain this knowledge and put it into action.

  • All employees should receive training on food safety.
  • Your training plan can be revised and created as needed.
  • Provide guidance and observation; offer external training; implement upskilling initiatives; etc.
  • Your staff should be trained on the most up-to-date technology.
  • Recognize and reward your top performers.
  • Conduct employee evaluations.
  • Engage in team-building exercises for optimal effectiveness.

Maintain employee records.

Though it can take time and effort, the rewards of a health inspection can be plentiful. Utilize these steps in your business day for optimal success when facing your next inspection.

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