Health inspections usually occur two to four times a year. Though it may be tempting to put off certain repairs or overlook a few minor health violations in hopes that the inspector will not visit today, it’s better to treat every day as the day an inspector will show up.
Practice with a Self-Inspection
The saying “practice makes perfect” holds true with health inspections. The best way to prepare for an inspection is by performing a self-inspection every week. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while performing your self-inspection.
Don’t announce it
Most of the time routine inspections are unannounced. Pick a random day in the week to surprise your employees with an inspection. This will help instill proper food handling practices day in and day out. The health inspector will be looking out for the little things others might normally overlook, so make sure your employees understand that the little things are just as important as the bigger ones.
Get the tools and look the part
Some of the common tools an inspector will carry are a flashlight, clipboard, alcohol wipes, chemical test strips and inspection forms. Using these tools will assure that you are as accurate and true to the process as you can be. Like playing detective, but for your own kitchen.
Use inspection sheets for accuracy
Using the same sheet as your health inspector will allow you to know exactly what they are looking for and the severity of each violation. Most health inspectors will have extra forms and should be happy to provide you with some copies. They’ll appreciate the fact that you want to be thorough.
Start outside and work your way in
The first thing an inspector sees is the outside of your establishment. Exterior cleanliness is crucial as it gives off the important first impression. As you walk through the door, you are also able to take on the persona of health inspector.
Perhaps the best method to assure that your restaurant will pass an inspection is by being extremely thorough in your self-inspections. Perfection can’t always be achieved, but you can get pretty close. Running a tight ship in the kitchen will show your employees and inspector that you are serious about health and cleanliness.
Quiz Your Staff
During an inspection, the health official will often ask employees questions about the task they are currently performing. Asking workers task-oriented and safety questions will keep the knowledge fresh in their minds and help gauge if your training techniques are effective.
Keep Your Records in Check
Your inspector may ask for any temperature, employee illness, hand washing, training or HACCP records that you have to assure that you are properly monitoring safety practices.Take time to check over these records yourself. This keeps them properly ordered and on hand for when the inspector arrives.
Talk About the Good & the Bad
Positive reinforcement is a proven teaching method and will help foster employee happiness and loyalty, so point out when an employee is doing something correctly. When an employee is performing a task incorrectly, take the time to explain the proper behavior. This helps them understand what’s expected and it helps your chances of getting a higher inspection score.
Correct Mistakes on the Spot
Let your staff know if they are making mistakes. When you show them how to do something properly and correct them when it’s not, they’ll trust you more. And be more likely to make the proper way of doing things a habit.
Hold a Staff Meeting
Use this time to go over your inspection findings with employees. Again, point out both positive and negative habits. Spend some time explaining proper practices. Give your employees a chance to ask questions so they can understand why things are done a certain way.
Certify your team for food handling
Most health departments require that food service employees be certified food handlers. This means each employee must receive training and pass a ServSafe test. Restaurants are required to keep up-to-date food cards on hand for every employee.