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Restaurants and Health Inspections

Posted on November 15, 2012

You run a successful Bay Area restaurant, and you’re nervous about the inspection process.

You pride yourself on having a clean kitchen, well-trained staff, and decent systems and processes in place. But you also know the potential costs to your brand if you fail an inspection – or even if you get less than ideal marks. Even small errors – or just bad luck – can cost you lifetime customers and degrade your reputation in the community.

Depending on your location and past history, you may be inspected four times a year or even more. You may dread your biannual review in the same way that an employee dreads his supervisor’s review. But inspections are a fact of life, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Your best defense against “inspection problems” is a good offense.
Get tougher on yourself than any inspector would potentially get on you.

Make “self-inspection” part of your weekly due diligence. For instance, every week – at an unannounced time – inspect the restaurant using the tools, sheets, and methods that health inspectors would (and do) use on you. Be as objective as possible. Put on an outsider’s hat, and do this mock inspection job “right.” Comb through records, such as hand washing documents, temperature rosters, logs about employee illnesses, HACCP records, etc.

Talk to employees, too: discuss their concerns and creative ideas. Do your kitchen workers know their protocol? Are your servers following best practices? Use chemical test strips, alcohol wipes, flashlights, and other tools to “dig deep” into the guts of your restaurant to find potential violations. If you see flagrant violations of health rules, correct them immediately.

After each mock inspection, gather your employees and go over the findings. Be sure to document what you find and to treat your employees respectfully but firmly. You’re not trying to be a dictator here, but you do need to keep your restaurant clean, so you can stay in business and serve customers with great service.

You should also learn any local rules that might apply to your business, based on the kind of food you serve, your past history, your licensing requirements, etc.

For help keeping your restaurant clean and tidy, look to the team at Matrix PE. We can help you eliminate pests and install better, safer processes to keep your food clean, your team happy, and your customers delighted and sated.

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