Is your restaurant ready for a health inspection right now? Chances are, the answer is “Probably not.” If you think your restaurant might be in that situation, there are effective tools to implement quickly and easily to maintain an eatery that is inspection ready – at all times.
Our number one tip? Create consistency.
As restaurant consultants and hospitality concept professionals, we know that consistency is key in nearly all we do, and is one of our most important industry leadership tactics. Having a trusted plan in place for all systems and operational approaches (from front of house and management styles, to kitchen and service standards, to back of house and beyond) will not only keep your business running smoothly, but will also generate the confidence needed to open your doors with assuredness when the health inspector comes knocking.
We turned to Executive Operations Chef Chuck Wheeler of VSAG client Farmers Fishers Bakers to gather some best defenses and best practices against garnering the health inspector’s failing grade.
1) Turn to Professionals. As most health inspections are city/state regulated by the local Department of Health, Chef Wheeler recommends hiring an outside, accredited agency (such as VSAG) familiar with local inspection guidelines to create a health/sanitation action plan to best address any problem areas. Once the plan is in place, Chef Wheeler suggests having management run the plan on a monthly basis for continued consistency.
2) Document Daily Line Checks & Temperature Logs. Systematically recording daily logs of food quality, portion control, temperature zones, and proper food storage is crucial to maintaining healthy, fresh food sources, says Chef Wheeler. Also, the data can prove as useful back up should a food borne illness be claimed.
3) Create Weekly Equipment Check Reports. Chef Wheeler recommends regularly inspecting all equipment; when it’s in good repair and well maintained, potential problems are mitigated. Also, he notes that an effective part of this task is keeping operators up to speed with the performance status of refrigeration and cooking equipment, since it can be easy to overlook a potential problem with equipment in a busy kitchen, and that can raise a flag with the health department.
4) Keep Cooling Logs for Hot Food. Keeping track of cooling times for hot food prior to storage or service is recommended, says Chef Wheeler, in order to ensure proper cooling techniques and therefore steering clear of possible issues with guests and elevated temperatures of hot foods.
5) Initiate HACCP Logs/Tracking. Implementing a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) management system is meant to track and control hazards from the production, procurement, handling, and consumption of raw foods in an establishment. Keeping a written log of all raw food products, preparation, and serving information will help staff and managers adhere to regulatory standards, which aids in further mitigation of any issues that might garner the attention of a Health Inspector.
*photo courtesy of zillow.com