Proper preparation for a health inspection is the difference between a good rating and a bad one. But knowing what to expect and what action to take is often extremely difficult for restaurant owners and managers, especially those who are just starting out.
This article Restaurant Health Inspections: How to Make the Grade, written by Mary FitzGerald, the founder and principal of Safe & Sound Food Safety Consultants, is a magnificent resource for owners and managers. FitzGerald covers everything about health inspections, from how to get proper training to what to do if you don’t like your inspector.
Here are some important points to remember when facing an upcoming health inspection:
“The key to preparing for your health inspector is to ensure that your staff is educated . . . ”
It is vital that each staff member have food safety training, even if a food handler permit is not required in the area. Most states also require that each facility have at least one individual with a Food Protection Manager Certification. Whether training is required or not required in your area, placing top priority on food safety training will ensure good ratings when the health inspector comes.*
”This learning [food handler/manager training] is put into practice by way of constant self-inspections.”
Having regular daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly self-inspections will ensure owners and managers know what to work on before the health inspector even gets to the facility. Many health departments provide self-inspection sheets on their websites. Also, cleaning and maintenance schedules will improve the frequency and quality of self-inspections.
“. . . if you are prepared with an educated staff and a history of routine self-inspections, you won’t have reason to fear the inspector’s visit.”
Being prepared for the health inspector’s visit will help managers and owners get the most out of the experience. Health inspections are an opportunity to learn about how to improve. A health inspector can come to a facility unannounced at any time and has a list of things he or she is looking for, so always enforcing safety practices is vital to a successful inspection. Owners and managers should be mindful of what violations are most common and what the inspector expects to avoid common pitfalls.
Having good grades on health inspections can bring more customers to a facility and avoid costly fees. But most importantly, providing a safe environment for food preparation and consumption protects customers from illnesses that can be serious and even deadly. Even if a facility is not expecting an inspection, owners and managers should be vigilant in creating a safe environment.
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— Sophie Buckner