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        Food safety, taught simply.

What to do to be prepared for your health inspection
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 timely, in-house inspections before the 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. If a copy of this form is needed please let us know and we can send one over! The inspection form also contains reference numbers pertaining to certain sections in the NC Food Code Manual, and if you need help looking up certain items or have questions interpreting the NC Food Code Manual so you are ready for the next inspection, please LET US KNOW! We are only a phone call or email away!
Prior to the self-inspection review the last inspection or two done by the health department. You want to be sure any violations observed previously are corrected and will not be an issue for any future inspections. A trust issue will easily develop, causing problems for many future inspections, if your inspector sees something that was not fixed from a previous inspection. Also keep in mind he/she will dock the foodservice operation the maximum points if recurring/repeat violations are present!
Walk into your establishment from the outside when starting the self inspection to get an outsider's impression. Walk around the building and look for signs of pests not only at your establishment but also others if you share a building. Other business owners would want to be aware of the same problems you could face if the pests are not taken care of. Pests will spread if not contained. Keep in mind you also want to look for wasps and yellow jackets in the ground and bushes as well as nooks in all entrances for customers who may be allergic to these insects.
Brief your kitchen staff to review any problems after the self-inspection. This will help convey the importance of food safety to staff members. This could also identify any training gaps with staff that may need to be reinforced so as not to have the same problems over and over again and a standard is set within the operation.
Ensure all staff members are on the same page. Train staff immediately if you find issues. 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. If you need training items in different languages please contact us and we can likely have the material translated appropriately!
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 (also stored in the correct order), when they are cooked, and when they are served. Please let us know if you need a copy of proper food storage that can easily be printed and posted on the refrigerator or walk-in.
Reinforce the importance of hand washing and no bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. Post signs at all kitchen sinks and in employee restrooms. Provide utensils and gloves for handling of ready to eat foods. Most of all, lead by example: if you expect your staff to wash their hands each time they enter the kitchen or change tasks, you have to do the same.

What to do when a health inspector visits
Don't panic when an inspector arrives. You and your staff should not scramble. Remember, you already prepared the staff and the facility by doing self-inspections. Think of the visit as a learning opportunity to help your operation to reduce the risk and liability associated with serving the public. To make the inspection a positive experience, follow these guidelines:

Ask to see the inspector's credentials if you do not recognize the inspector or he/she doesn't volunteer his/her credentials first. In some cases, people have tried to pass themselves off as health officials. If you're unsure of the person's credentials, call the local health department or the inspector's supervisor for verification. Ask whether the purpose of the visit is a regular inspection or due to a customer complaint. Train your employees to check identification before allowing anyone to enter the back of your operation.
Don't refuse an inspection (it seems obvious but you do have this right, especially if you do not recognize the inspector). Keep in mind in doing so, the health inspector likely will obtain an inspection warrant, which allows him/her to inspect your establishment without your consent.
Tag along with the inspector and take notes of any violations or suggestions. This gives you the chance to correct simple problems on the spot and most likely the health inspector will note your willingness to fix problems. Also, if the inspector has a question, you may be able to explain your methods and avoid a violation. Be prepared to provide any information or records that the inspector needs and answer the inspector's questions truthfully. Most likely if you do not tell the truth, your health inspector will eventually find out and not trust anything else you say. Don't be afraid to ask the health inspector questions or to explain why something is a violation but on the other hand, don't delay him/her from doing the inspection. If you do not receive clarification on a violation feel free to contact us and we can interpret the health inspector lingo!
Refrain from offering any food or any other item that can be misconstrued as an attempt to influence the inspector's findings.
Sign the inspector's report after the inspection. Signing it doesn't mean that you agree to the findings; it only means that you received a copy of the report.
Ask the inspector to explain his findings to your staff, or share the inspection results with your employees and offer suggestions on areas that need improvement. If the inspector has time, this could be a good learning experience for your staff.
Thank the health inspector for their time and help. Yep, oddly enough we said say "THANK YOU" to your health inspector! No job done well is easy-that includes running a successful food facility or being a health inspector. Showing your appreciation without going overboard will foster a good relationship.