Tag : Food Safety

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Nine tips to prepare for a health inspection

Here’s some great information from www.restaurant.org on how to be proactive and manage health inspections properly.

The proper strategy for a successful health inspection is to be ready for an inspection at any time. To stay ahead of the game, managers can conduct weekly, in-house inspections before health inspector arrives.

  • Use the same form ̶ or a similar form ̶ that your health department uses, and put yourself in the health inspector’s place. Check with your local health department on what regulations and forms are being used.
  • Walk into your establishment from the outside to get an outsider’s impression.
  • Brief your kitchen staff to review any problems post-inspection. This will help convey the importance of food safety to staff members.
  • Ensure all staff are on the same page. If your staff includes employees for whom English is a second language, have the findings translated so everyone understands how important food safety is to the success of your restaurant. Consider hiring a professional translator. A bilingual staff member might use terms or phrases that might not make sense or could be misinterpreted in other dialects.
  • Know your priorities. Your self-inspection priorities for kitchen employees should include: food time and temperatures, personal hygiene (including hand washing) and cross contamination. Temperature guidelines include checking the temperature of products when they arrive, when they are stored and when they are served.
  • Reinforce the importance of hand washing. Post signs at all kitchen sinks and in employee restrooms.
  • Train your managers to ensure they are up-to-date on the latest food-safety techniques. Restaurant employees can use the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ServSafe food-safety training programs.
  • Review your local health code for any special, local requirements.
  • Get involved politically to give a restaurateur’s perspective. One opportunity could be to join your state’s health-code-revision committee. Involve senior staff on such committees as well.

Now that you have prepared for the inspection, you need to know what to do when the health inspector arrives. Be warned that inspections usually arrive unannounced, so you’ll want to be ready on any occasion, even during rush hours.

A few of the tips recommend self inspections. County health inspections are no different than any other test really. You need to prepare/study for them so that you can score the highest grade possible. Just like the SATs or ACTs you would take practice exams to get a feel for the real exam. Get into the habit of self inspections and mimic the way your local health inspector will perform the inspection. By doing this regularly you will drive the desired behavior into the culture of your restaurant and be prepared at any time.

Due Diligence and Due Care in the Restaurant Business

Due Diligence and Due Care are words  generally associated with investing, contracts, and lately network security.  In my last position working in custom application development and  cyber security those terms were defined as:

Due Diligence: Identifying threats and risks.
Due Care: Acting upon identified threats to mitigate risks.
I believe that the hospitality industry better adopt Due Diligence and Due Care as management concepts that we fully embrace and implement into our business processes.
In the context of restaurant management, I look at Due Diligence as doing what it takes to serve safe food in a safe environment.  I didn’t say delicious food I said safe food.  Meaning that we use HACCP principles to ensure that the food products that we are serving have been delivered, stored, and prepared safely.
Most restaurants today are, or should be, conducting daily inspections of their facilities paying attention for critical food safety violations.  Making sure food is stored safely, chemicals are stored away from food, temperature discipline is maintained both in cooling and heating.  We aren’t introducing foreign contaminants into the food preparation areas.
By following best practices and inspecting daily, we are performing our Due Diligence in providing safe food for our customers.  Due Diligence is only half of the battle, Due Care is the other half.
Due Care procedures are the processes that you have in place for when you identify an issue.  The key to Due Care is consistent and documented application of the process.
You may be familiar with the phrase “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” that gets you into trouble.  That is especially true when you are doing your Due Diligence, conducting a pre-shift inspection, and you identify an issue but then you don’t correct the issue safely.
An example might be that you fill out a temperature log for a walk-in refrigerator, and you record a 65-degree temperature.  The person completing the temperature log doesn’t do anything to fix the issue, they just serve the food and they get a lot of people sick.
We as a nation are very intolerant of companies that had enough forethought to identify a critical area on an inspection but then not have a plan to fix the issue when they identified it.  We find that unacceptable, and for good reason, you wouldn’t want to fly in a plane where the pilot knew it was missing a wing but decided to take-off.
In the above example, we would hold the company responsible for, not training their inspector well enough to know that a 65-degree walk-in is very bad.  We would also hold them responsible for, not having a well-documented procedure to deal with the issue.
Look at your real-world experience, we for the most part understand when people make mistakes or accidents happen.  We get furious and litigious when mistakes are made and the people responsible are clueless when they should have known better.  We get even with businesses that profit while their customers get hurt.
As hospitality professionals, we have to make sure that our organizations, size doesn’t matter, have well documented Due Diligence and Due care processes in place.  More importantly we have to train, consistently follow, and document those processes in their application.  It is when we consistently apply our processes that we have a chance of protecting our brand and our businesses when we make a mistake.
My name is Tommy Yionoulis, and I’m a restaurant guy and a software guy.  I’m one of the founders of OpsAnalitica; you can learn more about our company at www.opsanalitica.com.
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