After facing the worldwide pandemic, understandably, people are very concerned about their health and governments are going an extra mile to keep their people safe. Outdoor activities that were stopped for so long start resuming and people are now more skeptical about sanitation. Health departments are working day and night to ensure that the safety guidelines are followed by people and businesses as well. There were strict protocols about health regulations in the past too but now health and sanitation guidelines are severe and uncompromising. So, If you are opening a restaurant, a food truck, or any other food-related facility, there are a few things you need to know about health department inspections.
The key concern of the health department is public wellbeing and safety. Anything that can cause people to be sick or have any effect on their health within your establishment is reviewed and commented on. Here are a few things that are checked by health sanitary inspectors and often get overlooked by restaurant owners and designers when submitting for a food establishment health permit.
- Restaurant surfaces
This is a very easily overlooked thing according to restaurant inspections reports. It should be kept in mind while designing a kitchen that all the surfaces are washable and easy to clean. Any public health inspector can check and spot the mold under your sink or the corners of your food station. The floor which should be non-slippery to avoid accidents is a common issue in health inspection reports. These issues can easily be fixed while designing your restaurant’s kitchen.
- Equipment Clearance
This is one of the main things that are checked in restaurant inspections. The equipment you use makes a huge difference in the time management and authenticity of your food so make sure to get the appropriate one. Health inspection reports have shown a huge amount of grease and junk piled up in ovens and food safety inspectors reported negligence in cleaning stations and dishwashers. It is very important to keep your equipment sanitized and grease-free not only to get good restaurant health scores but the maximum work out of your appliances.
- Doors and Ventilation
The windows in your restaurant must be fixed and non-operable so the food is not contaminated by flies or dust from outside to avoid health code violations. All the doors must have closing hardware that is properly installed. Delivery doors located in the kitchen or at the main entrance should ideally have air curtains that switch on automatically. Proper ventilation equipment should be installed to keep your area humidity-free. There are some exceptions to these rules that you can discuss with your local authorities but the health inspections are beneficial for your customers.
- Water Tanks and Heaters
An environmental health inspector will check your restaurant’s water tank requirements which are dictated by the health department. The peak hourly demands for all sinks, dishwashers, and other equipment that uses hot water in the facility are added together to determine the minimum required hourly rate of water. Eighty percent of the total hot water demand is required for facilities that use single-service eating and drinking utensils or are take-out only. Check with your local authorities for specific demands while calculating an appropriate water heater size for your food facility.
- Trash Area
The outside trash area of your restaurant must be located according to your local guidelines. There should be a concrete slab underneath and if the trash area is enclosed, the interior walls must be smooth, properly sealed, and washable. Different areas have specific requirements for trash enclosures. In some areas, the restaurant health inspection reports show the requirements of a roof structure, while others only need a simple concrete pad under your trash containers. Check with your local Health Department to find out what requirements apply to you.
- Fire Safety
Restaurant health inspection is not just limited to the kitchen. The eatery should have a good fire safety station for the well-being of the people working and eating inside. The extinguishers must be installed correctly and your staff should know how to use them. Fire alarms must be checked regularly because faulty fire alarms can result in disaster and you want maximum protection for your customers and staff. It is on top of the health code violation list to have properly working fire alarms so you should keep that in mind.
Running a restaurant comes with plenty of responsibilities and demands. You need to manage your staff, promote your business and ensure your customers are satisfied with every visit. With the rising awareness regarding sanitation and health inspection services, it is essential to learn innovative ways to follow the rules and excel in restaurant health inspection scores. Now with the specifications above you know the stringent health and safety standards, your business needs to follow. you will need to set specific protocols in place for keeping your restaurant clean and running smoothly throughout the day. There are significant penalties for breaking safety protocols and food health inspectors will surely check these.
Every member of your team must wear gloves while handling raw or cooked food. Make sure the gloves which are used during handling raw meat should be disposed of immediately.
- Mask policy
Wearing a mask is essential nowadays but it is even more important for the servers and cook or generally, anybody who is touching your food must wear a mask. A hair cap is also a must for the kitchen staff to achieve the highest possible food safety ratings.
Set up the hand sanitizer stations at various spots in your restaurants for staff and place a sanitizer bottle on each table. This is to ensure that there is no chance of any kind of bacterial invasion in your food and that it passes the food hygiene inspection easily.
- Washing Appropriately
Make sure that your staff is trained enough to wash raw meat and vegetables properly. The temperature settings of the dishwashers are according to food inspection reports. The working food station should be washed and cleaned throughout the day to maintain sanitary standards. Separate the utensils for raw meats to prevent cross-contamination.
- Cook at Right Temperatures
Many types of foods, mainly meat and eggs can be very dangerous if not cooked properly. So to avoid any problem during food inspection make sure that the cooking staff is well aware of the safe temperatures for food. This will avoid the potential problem of germ breeding and salmonella. Post the temperature guidelines in the kitchen so it’s easy for the staff to see as they prepare food.
- Cleaning Schedule
Maintain a cleaning schedule for your restaurant so it is easier to manage proper sanitization. The manager of the restaurant should create a checklist of the specific cleaning duties and tasks that have to be performed by the staff members. The cleaning checklist of your restaurant will depend on the size of your restaurant.
- Safe Storage
The food temperature is essential for keeping bacteria and other microorganisms from growing. So store food at the correct temperature for the proper amount of time. Many microorganisms are likely to grow in the danger zone where the internal food temperature is between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit according to the reports of health departments.