Those who work in a restaurant know that no two days are alike. Above all, one of the many surprises you could face is an unexpected visit from the health inspector.
If you’re a restaurant or cafe manager who’s paranoid about a looming visit, take this as a reminder: you should already be establishing and following cleanliness and food safety protocols to a tee!
Here’s what a health inspector will be looking out for:
It goes without saying, but your restaurant’s kitchen should be immaculately clean at all times. This means adhering to a regular cleaning schedule where you:
- Clean and disinfect kitchen equipment, utensils and food surfaces (including preparation areas, dishwashers, ovens, light switches, kitchen sinks, stovetops, faucet handles)
- Change foil linings of grill, range and flattops
- Mop, sweep and sanitise kitchen floors
- Storing cleaning equipment properly after use
- Washing kitchen rags, towels, aprons and staff uniforms
When examining your premises, a health inspector wants to see all food labelled, dated and stored in a clean, dry location – ideally in the First In, First Out (FIFO) method. Not only does this ensure better food hygiene standards, but it also means your customers are consistently receiving the best quality of food.
A food temperature measuring device should always be used to guarantee food is stored at the right temperatures during display and storage. As well as that, your refrigerators and freezers should always remain clean. If any spillages are overlooked or chemicals are stored near food storage areas, these would be huge red flags to a health inspector.
There’s no room for error when it comes to food preparation. For food to be handled and prepared safely, you and your team must be trained appropriately. Best practices include:
- Protecting food from cross-contamination (which would otherwise be caused by reusing food preparation tools, or having raw meat come into contact with other foods)
- Using and regularly changing disposable gloves when handling food
- Thoroughly rinsing produce to remove bacteria, soil or chemicals
- Thawing frozen food items safely
- Checking that food is heated to the correct temperature to kill bacteria
- Keeping high-risk foods out of the temperature danger zone (which lies between 5°C and 60°C)
As a restaurant owner, it’s necessary to take the relevant pest control precautions to protect your business. Rather than attempting to remedy the problem yourself, it’s best to engage the professional services of an accredited pest control company.
If you notice any of these signs, don’t hesitate to take action:
- Contaminated food
- Unpleasant odours
- Presence of animal droppings or nests
- Structural damage such as bite marks or holes
- Damaged plants
A pest control company will also be able to advise you on ways to minimise the risk of pests. These include disposing of rubbish correctly, emptying garbage bins regularly and cleaning and sealing each bin.
Keeping in line with hygiene protocols is a team-wide effort. Sometimes, all it takes is one employee with poor hygiene to raise a few eyebrows.
In order to uphold a high level of personal hygiene, your employees should be following these guidelines:
- Washing hands thoroughly and often
- Wearing clean, protective clothing and closed-toe shoes
- Refrain from wearing any jewellery
- Covering or tying back long hair
- Covering cuts or wounds
- Keeping nails short and free of nail varnish
- Refrain from working if symptoms of illness are exhibited
- No coughing, sneezing, eating or smoking in food preparation areas
By following this general guide, you and your team can be prepared for that next health inspector visit. For more specific food safety laws and regulations, be sure to refer to your local authorities.