Steps in Preparation for Health Inspections:
- Food service staff knowledge on food safety- check to ensure food service staff have received food handler training and certified through a Food Safety Certification Course (ServSafe) as per local health department’s requirements. Re-fresh food handlers regularly with the knowledge of safe food handling practices.
- Store food properly- keep stored food six inches above the floor in pantries and walk ins. Label unmarked containers for quick review of contents and delivery dates, and rotate inventory using the first in, first out method. Sweep food storage areas several times a day and clean at least once a week.
- Proper food temperature control-avoid the danger zone. Keep cold food cold (below 4 degrees C/40 degrees F) and hot food hot (above 60 degrees C/140 degrees F) and keep frozen below -18 degrees C/10 degrees F. Check refrigerators and freezers to ensure they have indicating thermometers and in compliance of temperature requirements. Cook all hazardous food such as meat to safe internal temperatures, use a probe thermometer.
- Carefully manage chemical products– store all cleaning and chemical products safely away from food storage and prep areas. Keep buckets, brooms, mops and other cleaning gear stored in a closed area. Only allow chemicals and cleaning equipment in the kitchen after all food is put away at the end of service.
- Proper personal hygiene- all food handlers must wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food. Provide hot/cold running water, soap in dispensers, and a supply of paper towels at all hand wash basins. Ensure these basins are only used for hand washing. Wear clean outer garments and hair constraints.
- Proper cleaning and sanitizing schedule- Daily: Clean all counters and prep areas, under counter shelving and shelves inside the refrigerator. Clean all small equipment, food prep tools, and dishwasher surfaces. Sweep and mop all floors and clean the floor drains. Weekly: Clean vents above the grills to prevent fires caused by grease buildup. Clean all gaskets on the refrigerator and oven. Clean underneath the fryer wells, inside the ice machines, and all the walls around equipment. Clean trash bins and all internal fan guards. Defrost small freezers to prevent too much ice from forming. Monthly: Give a deep clean to your ceiling vents, floor drains, floor mats, and any rolling carts. Quarterly: Clean all dumpsters inside and outside of your establishment. Clean staircases, storage areas, and ventilation filters.
- Maintenance and sanitation of food contact surfaces- clean and sanitize with soap and water followed by a solution of approved sanitizer. Discard cracked utensils. Wash all utensils, dishes and equipment either by hand, using the two or three sink method or in a mechanical dishwasher as required. .
- Keep plumbing in top shape– Do more than clean in your bathrooms and kitchen areas. Head off problems by addressing plumbing repairs right away. This minimizes the chance of mold growing around leaky pipes, drains clogging during a busy service or sewage backup in the bathrooms.
- Proper waste removal- remove solid and liquid waste from the food preparation area on a daily basis, or more often if necessary and store waste in a sanitary manner. Waste receptacles must be leak proof, pest proof, non absorbent and have tight fitting lids.
- Discourage pest infestations- Make sure all doors close tightly and install air curtains on the back of the establishment exterior doors. Arrange for professional pest control that specifically handles food service operations.
- Maintain good operational records- Keep records of food safety inspection reports by health inspectors and self inspection reports, pest control schedules and service provided, equipment repair and maintenance records. Review records with managers regularly as part of the quality assurance program.
- Implement and maintain an effective HACCP plan. Occasionally hold shift meetings to refresh your employees on proper procedures if you notice errors.
- Periodically ask employees safety and sanitary questions about the tasks they are required to perform. This will prepare them for any questions they may get from the inspector.
Earn Top Grades
In conclusion, the best way to ensure a top grade from your health inspector is to be your own health inspector. Promote regular self inspection of food safety compliance to identify infractions and correct problems before the health inspector finds them. Self inspections can improve food safety while reducing foodborne illness outbreak risk and liability of the business.
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