A Restaurant Manager’s Guide to Passing a Health Inspection

Passing a health inspection can be very difficult and may sometimes seem impossible, but policies and procedures can be put in place to help any manager handle a surprise health inspection. Employees have already been trained on keeping track of temperatures, wearing gloves, washing hands and managing their drinks according to the 2009 FDA Food Code, but what can a manager do to make sure these procedures are followed when an inspector shows up?

A Manager's Guide to Passing a Health Inspection | ResproFSP.com

First and foremost, it’s extremely important that a manager walk through with the inspector. All employees should be trained that when an inspector arrives, the manager needs to be notified immediately. A manager should accompany the inspector so the manager can see and correct any violations found.

Be Assertive and Proactive during a Health Inspection

The manager should be looking for any potential critical violations that could happen and coach employees to ensure they follow appropriate procedures so needless critical violations aren’t found. These 5 areas are the most critical and need the most attention:

  1. Hand Washing: During the inspection, if there is a time when an employee should wash his hands, tell him to do so. Don’t hold your breath and pray that he does it. Tell him so it’s not a violation.
  2. Employee Food and Drinks: If any employee food or drinks are spotted while walking through the kitchen with the inspector, discard them immediately. Even if the inspector sees these items, the inspector will be encouraged that the violation was corrected before having to tell the manager.
  3. Gloves: Make sure line cooks are wearing gloves if they’re handling food, and make sure they wash their hands before putting on gloves. Often, kitchen employees get nervous when an inspector arrives and they immediately put on gloves. They only need to wear gloves when handling food with hands, but it’s extremely important they wash their hands before putting on gloves.
  4. Food Out of Temperature: When temperature-abused food is found, take appropriate action. If it’s a few degrees warm, try to add ice, but if it’s closer to 50 degrees F, discard it. Food that far out of temperature will worry the inspector and may compel him to return soon, often at the restaurant’s expense.
  5. Sanitation: Always make sure the towel buckets have sanitizer and the dish machine is sanitizing. If they aren’t during the inspection, get them corrected right away. If a repairperson needs to be called, do it.

The manager should be very vocal with the staff during a health inspection. This shows the inspector that the manager knows what the regulations are and is actively trying to keep employees in compliance.

Be Prepared

The food code lists many regulations, some obscure and vague; however, all are important. A new manager should start with critical violations. During a health inspection, these will hurt a restaurant the most in terms of inspection scores.

Do Self-Inspections

Every day, a manager should walk through the restaurant and think as a health inspector. Check all the critical areas. Take temperatures of food in units that may have been a problem before, check to make sure drinks are stored properly, food should be covered and raw meats stored in the right places. Correct any problems that are found. Doing your own health inspection will help you understand and remember the food code regulations. Correcting violations that are found on the self-inspection every day increases the chances of a good health inspection when the real one happens. Use a checklist. We have one to help you: Respro Health Inspection Checklist.

Manage the Inspection

Every day, a manager controls the flow of the restaurant during operations by managing employees, monitoring food quality, etc. So why not do the same for a health inspection? Be confident with the inspection process, so when it really does happen, there are no surprises and issues can be addressed quickly and appropriately.

For help setting up policies and procedures to ensure good health inspections, please contact me at dennis@resprofsp.com. How did your last health department inspection go? I’d love to hear your comments.

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