Restaurant Health Inspection Survival Guide

How to Prepare, Pass and Recover in a Restaurant Health Inspection Guide Customers will often conduct research on a restaurant before visiting it, especially if they are first-timers. 94% of diners will review a restaurant …

How to Prepare, Pass and Recover in a Restaurant Health Inspection Guide

Customers will often conduct research on a restaurant before visiting it, especially if they are first-timers. 94% of diners will review a restaurant online, looking at the prices, location, and overall rating. There is a good chance that diners will search for a different place to eat if the ratings are not high.

But what is it that determines a restaurant’s ratings? Many diners also consider the health inspection scores of restaurants when choosing dining options. Some review sites have even included health inspection scores into their restaurant reviews pages.

Although local laws may determine the details of health inspections, they are usually based upon the FDA Food Code. It is a good idea to check out the inspections of restaurants in your area before you go.

This article provides information that is applicable to most health inspections.

How often can Health Inspectors come to your Restaurant?

Health inspections usually take place at random. They can be scheduled at any hour of the day or night, provided the business is still open. The inspector might arrive at 7:30 a.m. to inspect the opening of a restaurant that doesn’t open before 8 a.m. Inspectors might arrive at 8:30 p.m. to inspect the closing procedures if the restaurant doesn’t close before 9 p.m.

Does a Health Inspector Need a Warrant?

A warrant is not usually required for health inspectors because they are only enforcing civil law and not criminal law. Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc. is a legal precedent that has established that “pervasively controlled businesses” and industries, such as restaurants, are exempt from the usual Fourth Amendment protections, which requires law enforcement to provide a warrant before inspecting.

While the FDA can inspect food service businesses under the FDA’s authority, “…that inspections be conducted at reasonable times and within reasonable limits as well as in a reasonable manner” Congress has given the FDA warrantless authority to inspect the facilities.

What do Health Inspectors Look for?

Cleanliness issues such as bad odors or dirty countertops, trash, mold and other obvious signs should be addressed quickly using the right restaurant cleaning tools. This is vital because inspectors will look at multiple factors during inspections to determine if the restaurant is clean. They’ll inspect the cleanliness of the restaurant, including handwashing and food-handling skills.

Proper Handwashing

The FDA guidelines require that handwashing procedures must be used in all instances that could “contaminate the hands”, as well as:

  • You must be able to enter a food preparation area.
  • Before using single-use gloves that are clean and safe for food handling, or when you change gloves between uses
  • Before starting to prepare food,
  • Before handling clean equipment and serving tools
  • Changes in tasks, such as switching between raw food and ready-to-eat foods.
  • You should wash any soiled dishes or equipment immediately.
  • Touching bare human body parts such as the hands or arms with your fingers, is not recommended.
  • After using the bathroom;
  • After you’ve stopped coughing, sneezing or blowing your nasal passages, stop smoking, eating, and drinking.
  • After caring for or handling animals, aquatic animals such as molluscans or crustacea in tank displays;
  • If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizing wipes to protect your hands after washing.

Proper handling of cooked food

Cross-contamination can occur even though food items have been properly cooked. Cooked and ready-to eat food require special handling techniques. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked foods and leftover safety practices include:

  • Correct cooking of meats
  • Fast cooling food
  • Food should be kept out of the danger area
  • Reheat leftovers, but don’t thaw them;
  • Refreeze any frozen leftovers
  • Keep leftovers safe
  • Refrigerate leftovers properly

How to cook meat well

The USDA recommends these guidelines when cooking meat.

  • All raw beef, lamb, and vegetable steaks, chops, or roasts should be cooked to a minimum internal temp of 145°F, as measured using a food thermometer.
  • To cook all meats, poultry, lamb and veal, heat the mixture to 160°F using a thermometer.
  • Poultry: To cook all poultry, heat the water to 165°F using a thermometer.

Food comes from an Approved Source

FDA guidance on approved sources should be used to guide restaurants in determining which food source they are allowed to buy from. A restaurant can also make sure their food is safe by ordering food that is:

  • From manufacturing plants
  • Suppliers or distributors
  • You can get your produce from local, regional, or international growers.

Clearly labeled food storage

You will need to label food items differently in restaurants and commercial kitchens than you would at home. All time- and temperature-controlled foods must be labeled with the following information:

  • Name and type
  • Name of the person responsible for the preparation of the item
  • Date and time when the food was prepared.
  • The expiration date for food

Concentration for Dishwasher Sanitizer Correct

An important step in health inspection is to inspect the industrial dishwasher used in a restaurant.

  • Chemical Dishwasher To test a chemical dishwasher, employees must run a “test load” of dishes through it. Use a piece or strip of sanitizer test paper to check the concentration of final rinse water at the end of each cycle. The type of sanitizing solution used will affect the parameters. Refer to the FDA guidelines for further information.
  • High-Temperature Dishwasher Watch the temperature dials during the entire cycle to ensure that the dishwasher is operating at its maximum temperature. When the machine goes through the rinse phase, make sure the temperature dial is at 171 degrees Fahrenheit. When the machine is in the rinse phase, a high-temperature probe temperature thermometer should be run with the dishes.

Cleanliness of floors, ceilings and walls is essential

Easy floors can be cleaned. Ceilings and walls can be more difficult, especially when it comes down to grease. There are ways to make this task easier. You can make end-of-shift deep cleaning easier by using a handy degreasing pad throughout the day. Make sure that all surfaces are clean before you start sanitizing.

Restaurants must ensure that the floors are clean in order to avoid injuries to employees and customers. Also, it is important to maintain the interior cleanliness to meet industry codes and ensure your health inspection passes.

What happens if you fail to pass a Health Inspection?

If your restaurant is inspected and found to be unsafe, you will likely be offered a solution. You may be subject to a follow-up inspection and fines. If the issue is more severe, it could even lead to closure of the venue.

Remember that once your facility gets rated, it is placed on an online database. The history of any health code violations is available to the public. You may lose potential customers if your restaurant has a bad rating.

You are typically given a time frame in which you can fix any health issues once you have been given your grade. There are steps you can take to correct your health violations.

  • In 5 to 45 days, you can schedule a recheck.
  • You can find out what caused each violation and how to prevent it from happening again.
  • Your staff should discuss any violations with you and determine the appropriate corrective action.
  • You can appeal a violation if there is a reason to disagree. To speak to the inspector’s supervisor, call your local health department.

Personal Training

10 methods to teach your restaurant staff good sanitation and hygiene habits.

  1. All employees must be educated about food safety.
  2. Make and improve your training plan.
  3. Guide and observe;
  4. Provide training to the outside world
  5. Implement upskilling;
  6. Make sure your employees are trained in the use of the most current technology.
  7. Recognize your top employees
  8. Conduct employee evaluations
  9. Encourage team building exercises
  10. Keep track of your employees.

While completing a health inspector can be time-consuming and require teamwork, the end result can be very rewarding. It is possible to pass your next health inspection by following the above guideline and incorporating these steps into your everyday business operations. This will help improve the quality of your restaurant.