Nailing Your Next Health Inspection - Part 1

Josh Cooke
Feb 21, 2023

Nailing Your Next Health Inspection - Part 1

Let’s say it is a normal day, a normal shift, and the kitchen is humming along like a Broadway play. Then, you feel the hairs on your neck begin to lift slightly as you suddenly realize everything is a little too perfect. The fading burn marks from thousands of saute pans dot your insult proof thick skin, which silently states you have fought and won many Mother’s Day battles. Your experience tells you what these signals mean. The health inspector is coming. This week, maybe next, but they come, always. Always they come. You, however, are cool, calm and collected. You know what needs to be done already.

Understanding the Health Inspection Form

  • The inspection form is arranged into two columns. The items contained in the left column are deemed to have the highest risk, or are the most likely to cause a foodborne illness.  Therefore, these items have an overall higher point deduction.  Although the items in the right column are deemed as having less risk and have overall lower point deductions, they serve as a foundation within the facility and could be contributing factors leading to foodborne illness. For a blank health inspection form click here.
  • You'll notice the very first item on the health inspection form is to verify if someone in the operation has their Food Safety Manager Certification.  Do you need your ServSafe® Manager certification?  

Prioritize What Is Important and Set a Goal

Review the last inspection report from the health department. You want to be sure all items which were marked out-of-compliance (OOC) on the previous inspection are corrected. This will establish trust between your food service establishment and the health department. Think back to when you were babysitting, or have been supervising kids in any capacity. Do you remember that really annoying feeling when they don’t listen to you. This is the same feeling your health inspector would have if the previous OOC items have not been made satisfactory.

Have a goal set for what you want.  Whether it is a number, or a push to increase the general standards, identify specifically what it is.  This will be very important when communicating with your team because you can’t do it all by yourself.

Walk In From the Outside

First impressions are everything. Your inspector will begin looking as soon as they pull in and you want them to have a positive first impression. Circle the building and look for signs of pests, trash, or general maintenance issues. If you notice mortar cracking in the bricks or cracks around molding, a can of caulk will work as a cheap option. If you have the budget, call a pro to fix these items. You may also want to look for wasps, yellow jackets, or other stinging insects in the warmer months. One time a restaurant had a health inspector who was already agitated from being stung by a wasp while walking under the covered entrance.

Click here for Part 2 or Part 3.