The “Regulatory Authority”, commonly known as the health inspector regularly visits twice a year, depending on several variables. When they visit, you first demand a photo ID. They then demand a permit and your CPFM (Certified Prof. Food Manager) certification. Then, the actual inspection commences. The health inspector will look at 55 different things during their routine inspection that you should expect to last about 45 minutes. But this time it didn’t go so well. Although the average number of violations during a routine inspection is 6.2, you had more than 6.2. It didn’t go well at all. What can you do?
Cooperate with your inspector.
Take all the action that is required. Complete corrective action(s) on time, and notify the Regulatory Authority (the “health inspector”) when the required corrections are completed, and communicate thoroughly and regularly. Ask good thoughtful questions.
Seek professional help.
Find a trained, experienced professional to speak with, preferably someone that is extensively knowledgeable in restaurant operations and/or food safety and sanitation.
Be fully transparent.
With the owners, the staff and the customers, and do so immediately. Full disclosure removes the appearance of hiding something.
Fully re-train the entire staff immediately.
This re-training should be mandatory and pre-establish several follow-up training meeting to be sure staff is fully knowledgeable on their roles & responsibilities.
Instill those core values that are critical to your success.
Then repeat, repeat and repeat. Things like cleanliness, general food safety practices, and intensely thorough sanitation procedures must be part of the establishment’s core values!
Institute weekly self-inspections.
Make certain that the person in charge (PIC) performs regular weekly self-inspections of the entire establishment, both inside and out. Pay particular attention to employee’s personal hygiene including hand-washing, cooking temperatures, hot/cold holding temperatures and the prevention of cross-contamination. Your self-inspection should closely mirror the inspection that the health department performs. Serve It Up Safe! can provide that inspection form if you need it, as well as ServSafe food safety training.
Set forth an immediate plan of pro-activity; you’ve got to be proactive! There are a lot of situations where you can “COS” (correct on spot), so never leave the inspector’s side. Shadow them through the entire inspection. Besides, it’s a good learning opportunity! In 2012, there were over 500,000 violations in the sunshine state accounting for $2.2 million in fines. You need to bounce back quickly and not be a repeat offender. You have to shift your thinking from focusing exclusively on the two things every F & B manager laser’s in on- the P & L and customer service- to thinking more proactively about food safety and sanitation. You have to focus more specifically on cleanliness and sanitation, both of which will directly impact the P & L and customer service. And that’s a win-win!