A health inspection can be a very frustrating experience in a restaurant. Someone you don’t know is telling you what is wrong with your business. Oftentimes, things are pointed out that you had no idea were problems. If you had known it was a problem, then it would have already been addressed, but it took a health inspector to point it out. These inspections would go much easier if a process was in place to identify these problem areas. This process can be developed by doing your own health inspection.
In-house inspections can be very beneficial to not only find and correct problems before the health inspector finds them, but it will also greatly improve the food safety program of the restaurant. The health inspections will improve food safety while reducing risk and liability. If a foodborne illness complaint arises, these reports can be used to help prove innocence.
A good in-house inspection program starts with a report or checklist. This report should focus more on the critical issues that can lead to foodborne illness or enforcement action from the health department. The checklist should focus on these areas:
- Proper food storage
- Overall cleanliness
- Food labeling and date marking
- Proper hand washing and glove use
- Overall cleanliness of facility
- Equipment warewashing and storage
- Chemical management
- Overall operations
- Proper sanitizing practices
Any restaurant can develop its own inspection sheet and tailor it to operations by incorporating these 10 points, or by simply downloading ours: Respro Health Inspection Checklist.
Be sure to purchase the necessary tools such as a thermometer and test strips in order to adequately perform the inspection. Have other staff members help. Delegate monitoring temperatures to the kitchen manager, and use the checklist to verify that temperatures have been checked every day.
By following these steps, any manager can be an in-house health inspector. Staying on top of the critical issues can prevent foodborne illness and improve your health inspection score.