To the dining public, restaurant inspectors are the first and likely best defense against food-borne tragedies (e.g. food poisoning, food-borne illness, etc). To us in the restaurant industry, their visit is not exactly the most pleasant of occasions.
With little by way of predicting when a health inspection will occur, is there a way we can still prepare our businesses and our professional team for whenever restaurant inspectors come to visit?
The great news is: yes. The better news: they are doable. Check out the list below.
How to Get Ready
Give routine tests and trainings on HACCP, the USFDA Model Food Code, as well as the state food code for good measure. This is one of the most effective ways of making sure that everyone in your team is knowledgeable and onboard with your hygiene and food safety efforts.
Conduct your own surprise inspections. Based on the usual criteria that health inspectors use to check restaurants (usually available online or through local government agencies, such as this one), conduct your own surprise inspection to find possible lapses. You may also use the same checklist the inspector used from your last health inspection cards to improve on your mistakes.
Implement a health inspection plan. Just as every building has an evacuation plan in cases of emergency, your restaurant should have a plan of action to follow in case the health inspector drops in for a visit. This should include who the point person will be, how to discreetly inform the staff in both the front and back of the house posts when an inspector has arrived, and who will keep track of the paperwork that the inspector would ask for (e.g. permits, licenses, etc), etc.
Maintain refrigeration systems. The state of your walk-in freezers and your refrigerators are essential in how you keep your perishables safe, and is also a valuable area of inspection. Keep your refrigerators in tiptop shape, making sure they are clean, that the temperatures are accurate and there are no leaks on the seal. Implement an organization system as well.
Impose a strict pantry and storage system. Keep a strict maintenance schedule for the cleaning out of your pantry and make sure everything is organized, free of dirt and mold, etc.
Make sure your plumbing systems work properly. No amount of coaxing could convince any health inspector, let alone any human being, that a clogged sink is not disgusting. Keep your drains and sinks in perfect condition and sparklingly clean at all times.
Make sure your linens are clean and stain-free as are your professional uniforms. Stains on the table are always unsightly, but even more so in a restaurant. Make sure you replace your tablecloths and napkins regularly and wash them spotless.
Make a habit out of cleaning. Run your restaurant as if an inspector is perpetually observing and grading your restaurant. Leave no room for lapses and make sure your staff is on their best, cleanest behavior at all times to make sure that your restaurant is always ready – for the inspection and for satisfying your diners’ need for clean, delicious fare.
Need help acing your restaurant inspection and making a great impression on your guests?
Contact us at Republic Master Chefs today to find out more about our ultra-clean restaurant linen and uniform services! We have a range of products and services designed to help restaurants of all sizes achieve their best. Call 800-640-2433 today!