Forget the Checklist. Here’s The Real Secrets You Should Know Before a Health Inspection.
Surprise! The health department is here to inspect your restaurant. It’s too late to start vacuum packing lemon wedges and running through a checklist. Instead, here’s some practical advice on how to make the inspection process run smoothly.
Offer Food and Beverage, But Only Once
It’s your business to be hospitable. Offer the health inspector something to eat and after welcoming them, and don’t mention it again. It’s important not to be overzealous here, as anything beyond the normal pleasantries can be perceived as bribery. Once you know your guest is comfortable, move on with the inspection.
Don’t Make Excuses
The most common piece of advice offered by industry vets on health inspections is, “don’t make excuses.” No health inspector wants to hear your reason for improper labeling. Own your mistake and promise to improve it. Taking responsibility will keep you on solid footing with the inspector, and show you’re committed to maintaining a healthy business.
Show Off/Utilize Your Tech
Many restaurants now use software to optimize operations. This is especially useful come health inspection time. Showing the health inspector you’re committed to overseeing things like temperature and labeling beyond a sharpie marker and clipboard will earn you serious brownie points.
Remove Your Jewelry
This goes for both men and women. Any personal jewelry that can fall into food is considered a contamination risk. If you remember, slide off any rings for the duration of the visit.
Seek Inspector’s Advice
Testing a new process in the kitchen? Implementing a new cleaning routine? Ask the health inspector how this relates to the code in your area. By soliciting suggestions, you not only validate her expertise, but it’s likely you’ll get useful insight. Who better to ask about restaurant process than someone who visits hundreds of them every year?
And last but not least...
Never Refuse an Inspection
Want to get on the health inspector’s bad side? Refuse an inspection and force him to return with a warrant. While you’re within your rights to say, “no,” it’s a common expectation that your restaurant will be inspected, so impeding the health inspector’s job isn’t karmically smart. If you refuse an inspection, it’s unlikely your store’s relationship with the Health Department will ever fully recover.
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