Have you ever opened up the local newspaper and taken a look at the restaurants that failed their health inspections? Invariably, in this list of food-based obituaries, there will be a few that you really enjoyed that have gone under. While we might be surprised that these restaurants did not pass their health inspection, the reality is that there are a few common features they all shared that led to their closure.
At Nutri-Rific, we offer food safety classes that can help you and your team create not only a positive place to work but one that is compliant with health inspection codes and regulations. As they say, knowing is half the battle, so let’s take a look at the most common reasons restaurants fail their health inspections. Once you know what they are, you’ll know how to avoid them.
Pests and Infestations
No one likes the idea of creepy crawlies scrambling around in the kitchen, be it at home, or at a restaurant. But your restaurant naturally attracts pests like bugs and rodents. It offers the major resources they’re all searching for, such as food, water, warmth, and shelter.
A population of pests in pad thai prep spaces, however, is a sure-fire way to fail a health inspection. Pests, be they bugs, rodents, or other animals, can spread dirt, debris, and even disease across your workspaces, which means your food can become contaminated.
Fortunately, keeping your restaurant free of pests is often easier than it sounds. That’s because prevention is the best course of action in this case. Start by completing a thorough examination of the interior and exterior of your restaurant. Look for cracks in the foundation or walls, gaps around the pipes and fittings that run in and out of the building, and make sure that your screens and windows are fitted soundly in their frames. This helps to keep pests out. Next, take a look at your food management and storage practices. Inspect every delivery of food before storing it to make sure you’re not letting anything in on accident. Make sure you don’t store food on the floor and don’t let food sit in open containers on shelves and counters. When there’s a spill, make sure to clean it up right away. Take out the garbage throughout the day.
In effect, a clean and well-organized restaurant is a pest-free restaurant. When you keep your workspace clean, you’re more likely to pass your health inspection too!
Besides your head chefs, perhaps the hardest working part of your restaurant is your work surfaces. From contact surfaces like cutting boards and grills to non-contact surfaces like storage areas, these surfaces are always being used. Over time, these surfaces can accumulate debris and contaminants if they are not cleaned regularly. This can lead to the build-up of germs and bacteria, which can be passed on to your patrons.
To ensure that your work surfaces stay clean, make sure that all areas that come into contact with food are cleaned and sanitized regularly. Additionally, make sure that any cleaning agents are carefully removed from these surfaces after you’ve finished using them, as these can contaminate the food as well. It’s also important to keep surfaces like floors clean, so make sure to lift the mats and clean underneath those.
Clean work surfaces mean clean food and happy customers. Make a careful cleaning of your work surfaces part of your daily routine, and you’ll never have an issue.
This can be difficult to track sometimes, but employee hygiene can have a pronounced effect on not only on the quality of your food, but whether your restaurant passes its health inspection or not.
There’s no denying that working in a restaurant can be messy, but so can daily life. Your employees bring dirt, debris, and germs into work with them from their homes. That’s why it’s important to ensure that they maintain a high level of personal hygiene while they’re at work.
For instance, cooks should be in clean clothing every time they come into work. In an ideal situation, they’ll have a set of clothing that is stored at the restaurant that they can change into when they start their shift. This limits the number of outside contaminants they might bring in with them on their cooking clothing.
Additionally, encouraging your employees to wash their hands thoroughly is another easy way to cut down on the spread of disease and germs in your workspaces. A quick splash of water and soap often isn’t enough, so make sure to remind your employees to wash their hands up to their elbows for a full 20 seconds before returning to work. They should get in the habit of washing hands after trips to the bathroom, after breaks, and before switching to food prep related tasks.
Once your restaurant is free of pests, has clean workspaces, and fresh employees, it’s time to examine your equipment. Problems with food preparation and storage equipment plague restaurants of all kinds. Your equipment, from whisks to meat slicers, should be well-maintained, kept clean, and should be free from damage. Keeping your equipment in tip-top shape not only makes for better food but keeps your employees safer too.
Equipment inspections are fairly easy to complete. First, make sure your equipment is NSF compliant. While the cooking materials available in normal commercial spaces might work for you, they aren’t often up to the rigors of restaurant use, meaning they cannot be kept clean appropriately.
Next, make sure your equipment is being used properly. It might be difficult to imagine a heat lamp being used for anything other than keeping a dish warm, but you’d be surprised how creative your employees can get. Using equipment properly ensures that it’s not being subjected to undue wear-and-tear and keeps them functional longer. Plus, it mitigates the chances of employees getting injured.
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Now that you’re aware of the common reasons restaurants fail their health inspections, you can take the appropriate steps in your own business to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your restaurant and ensure that you’re meeting all of the food safety compliance codes in your area, then it’s time to attend a Nutri-Rific food safety class. Each one of our programs features a training portion, supplemental educational materials, and is concluded with an exam. To find out more about our programs, contact us today, or check out our brochure.