Here’s something I realized this weekend, some people will go to the ends of the earth to avoid a restaurant that has received a poor health inspection rating. Regardless if the restaurant has improved the situation that has caused the poor rating in the first place, they want no part of it. That seems unfair to me, but not everyone has restaurant industry experience to soften them. In fact, a friend recently argued to me that we should expect “A” ratings from every restaurant.
That says a lot about how important it is to strive for the best rating during a health inspection. With that in mind, I compiled a list of the most common violations and how to avoid them. Keep these in mind when you’re preparing for a health inspection or doing a self-inspection of your establishment.
Follow the steps below to practice A-grade food safety and keep your customers safe from food-borne illness.
Be sure employees are trained in basic food safety and supervised by someone who has a food protection certificate.
- Arrange work schedules so that a supervisor with a food protection certificate is on duty whenever your restaurant is receiving or preparing food, or is open to the public.
- Train supervisors to use the Self-Inspection Worksheet to regularly evaluate and improve the restaurant’s condition and employees’ food safety practices.
- Provide food safety training for all employees who handle food .
Hold food at the proper temperature.
- Review Health Department rules for temperature- holding requirements.
- Be sure equipment used to hold hot and cold food is working properly.
- Use thermometers to monitor the temperature of foods in hot or cold storage.
- Track food taken from hot or cold storage, and record how long it is out.
Control conditions that promote pests.
- Seal all cracks, crevices and holes in walls, cabinets and doors to prevent rodents, cockroaches and flies from entering.
- Install rodent-proof door sweeps on outside doors.
- Store food and garbage in pest-proof containers.
- Clean grease, oil and food particles from all surfaces and equipment, including the floor underneath.
- Keep range hoods clean and grease-free.
- Contract with a pest control professional licensed to work in restaurants.
Protect food from contamination during storage, preparation, transportation and display.
- Keep food covered until served.
- Keep food separated by temperature and type. Avoid cross-contamination by separating potentially hazardous foods (like raw poultry) from ready-to-eat items (like salad mix).
Maintain all food surfaces.
- Clean and sanitize all food-preparation surfaces after each use; remove caked-on food.
- Repair or replace deeply-grooved cutting boards and chipped or broken surfaces so they can be properly sanitized.
Maintain all non-food surfaces.
- Review Health Department rules on acceptable materials; surfaces should be smooth and cleanable.
- Keep all surfaces clean.
Maintain all plumbing and check it frequently.
- Monitor all plumbing fixtures and make needed repairs immediately.
- Be sure plumbing is fitted with approved devices (valves, anti-siphonage pieces, vacuum breakers) to prevent backflow.
- Clean and maintain grease traps.
We recommend consulting with your entire kitchen staff about these issues, and make sure to highlight the importance of a sanitary (and safe!) working environment.