How to get a restaurant inspection passable
An impromptu inspection of your restaurant’s health is enough to keep you awake at nights if you’re a manager or owner. Are you prepared?
Your restaurant’s health inspection has one goal: to ensure your guests’ safety and health. You must ensure that food is stored, prepared, and thawed according to regulations.
Failure to do this can result in severe penalties. Health inspectors can find violations and fines. They may even force you to close your doors until your food safety and conditions are improved. This could result in customers losing faith in your establishment.
If you treat your restaurant like an inspection could ever happen, you’ll be ready for any unexpected health inspection.
What are restaurant health inspections?
Restaurant health inspections are a review of your restaurant and staff for potential hazardous or unsafe materials. This can happen during production, packaging, and storage.
A health inspector will inspect your food storage, preparation and cooking methods. The inspector will also inspect the cleanliness of your kitchen, freezers, and storage areas.
When are restaurant health inspections conducted?
They usually occur randomly every 6 months. However, a food inspection is required to visit you if any customer complains.
What are the main things a health inspector looks for?
Simply put, they want to protect your customers from contamination and food poisoning in your restaurant. The health inspector will look out for things like during their inspection.
Food that has not been covered
- Containers not suitable
- No food labels to indicate “use-by” dates
- You must not allow your employees to wear gloves
- Under dripping beef, you can store raw ingredients
Signs of pets
- Cleaning products should be kept close to the pantry
- Inadequate temperature control
- Temperature checking logs are not required
- Dangerous foods in public
- Unkept food handlers
- Inadequacy of general cleanliness
They will also look for information from your managers, staff, and other employees. Restaurant owners must be familiar with all local health codes. Managers must be trained in food safety. All employees of restaurants must also have knowledge about safe food handling and preparation. This knowledge will be tested as part the Food Handlers Permit. The inspector will however ask questions to confirm this knowledge.
What happens when you are cited for a violation of food safety?
If you do receive a violation, it is important to not panic. You should immediately find and implement an immediate solution.
It’s possible to rectify the issue within a specified time frame, but it could be a minor violation such as improper labeling or unkempt furnishings. You might not be punished financially depending on the gravity, but it will be recorded. A follow-up inspection will also be conducted.
During this time, be sure to brief your staff and stress the importance food safety. Also, make sure to test your employees’ knowledge.
For serious violations
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.
Restaurants that don’t follow food safety guidelines could lose their license and be closed permanently. Don’t forget to post violations publicly on the health department’s website.
These are just a few examples of serious food safety violations.
- Unsafe food sources
- Proper food storage (hot/cold)
- Sick restaurant staff
- Properly cooked food, especially undercooked.
How to stay current with food safety guidelines
Restaurant owners may have to be vigilant about keeping up with the latest food safety guidelines. This is especially true if they are expanding or opening new locations in other countries.
Janilyn Hutchings (Food Scientist at StateFoodSafety) is a certified professional in food security and recommends that you contact your local health department directly to keep up-to-date with food safety guidelines.
7 Tips to Pass a Restaurant Inspection
It is important to think of every day as a health inspection day. Keep these tips in mind:
Make sure every employee has a Food Handlers Permit
A Food Handler’s permit (often called an Employee Health permit) is a permit that certifies that your employees have passed a food safety inspection. This permit is required to ensure that your restaurant is compliant with all applicable regulations.
Even if you don’t have to provide training in food safety for your employees, it is a good idea.
Every restaurant has its own rules. Make sure your front-and back-of-house staff are on the exact same page. Establish clear expectations for cleanliness and sanitation at all stages of food preparation. This should include food temperatures, cross-contamination, personal hygiene, and time for food preparation.
Create a daily maintenance program
Every employee should know who is responsible for maintaining cleanliness. This includes refilling the hand sanitizer and cleaning the counters, freezers, and bathrooms.
There may be changes in local health laws and codes. Make sure that you and your staff stay current. Hold regular stand-up trainings for employees to remind them about important principles.
You can’t ignore visual reminders
A good idea is to place food safety posters in the kitchen and break area. Posters are permanent reminders of important principles such as safe cooking temperatures and proper handwashing.
A consistent cleaning schedule should be established
This may seem obvious but your restaurant should have a consistent cleaning routine. Both your front-of–house and back-of–house staff should dedicate an hour to cleaning their work areas after the final service.
Conduct your own inspections
An inspection by their manager is what keeps your staff on their toes. Instill daily food preparation, storage and cooking habits, and ensure that your staff follows them every day.