Passing A Health Inspection

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health inspectionHow to Improve Your Odds of a Clean Report
There are four things you can do to make the whole health inspection process a lot more pleasant. Of course keeping a clean kitchen is the first and most necessary step to avoid citations. No one should disobey local Health Department regulations for food handling, but we all know that sometimes health inspections can be so strict and meticulous that the average customer’s home kitchen wouldn’t even pass. These four tips will help you avoid having your restaurant cited for something completely absurd.

1. Be careful how you interact with the health inspector. Chefs and managers tend to meet the health inspector with extreme reactions. You shouldn’t let the inspector see utter disdain or dread at their arrival, and you also shouldn’t be overly friendly with them. Either approach is going to make them think you have violations that you’re trying to hide. Don’t argue with them and don’t offer them food. Treat them professionally and respectfully.

2. Focus on employees. It’s a lot easier to instill a constant good work ethic in your employees than to try and rally them up once a month for a super kitchen clean down. If every employee is trained to consistently keep their own personal area clean and organized, there will never be a need to prepare for inspections. Cleanliness and proper food storage should be talked about when an employee is hired and made clear that it is equally important as other job responsibilities. For example, cleaning the walls and hoods of the kitchen should be a regular occurrence and part of the restaurant’s routine maintenance. It should not just be done a few times a year when a suspected health inspection is on the way. These larger tasks should be given to specific employees and assigned to be done on a regular basis. Clean for the sake of your business, not the inspector, and don’t expect the staff to volunteer to do these things on their own.

3. Take pride in your restaurant’s appearance. The kitchen should be equally aesthetic as the dining room. First appearances count for a lot when the health inspector arrives and you want your entire restaurant to “feel” clean. They will know at first glance the level of care and cleanliness your business instills. Crud in the floor corners, a stainless steel cooler that’s covered in fingerprints, and clutter are all signs of a kitchen manager that doesn’t regularly maintain their kitchen. Don’t let your kitchen’s eye-appeal fall to the wayside just to focus on hanging up regulatory hand-washing signs.

4. Have a last-minute plan. It would be unrealistic to think that an employee will never forget to label a food item or that the slicer will never have a stray bit of food on it. Health inspections can, and usually do happen at inopportune times, such as the middle of a busy service. If your kitchen is clean and you follow the rules, don’t let one little mishap get your restaurant bad publicity in the media. Every employee should have an area of concentration for when the health inspector is arriving. The moment the inspector’s presence is known on the property, one employee can be double-checking to make sure all foods are properly labeled and dated in the cooler, while another one is wiping down the slicer. If everyone has a “last minute” task, you should be spotless for your inspection.

Last modified: February 10, 2013
Sasha Smith


This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: MPR Authored, Restaurants, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, tips

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