National Food Safety Month—Restaurant Inspection Checklist
An efficient Restaurant Inspection Checklist is focused on standard safety actions and processes for your staff. It should be displayed prominently in your kitchen. Keep it in an easy-to-edit excel file, so you can update it with new protocols from the national or local health departments.
Designed to prevent food contamination and promote kitchen safety, your Restaurant Inspection Checklist will protect customers and staff.
Why is a Restaurant Inspection Checklist Important?
Health Inspections: Health inspections occur one to four times out of the year and are usually unannounced, and can happen outside of regular business hours. Not passing a health inspection can have serious consequences for your restaurant. Usually it will result in as a low health rating, which could deter business, but extreme cases include a temporary closure. Most local print and online newspapers will publish the weekly list of restaurant inspections–and all the gory details. Your restaurant could go viral…for all the wrong reasons. Just one more reason to put a Restaurant Inspection Checklist together today!
Food Safety: A Restaurant Inspection Checklist will not only prepare your team for the next health inspection, it will establish a standard for safe operations which will affect your food service year-round. By enforcing proper food handling and storage processes, you won’t have to worry about illnesses spreading from your kitchen.
Staff Management: Using a Restaurant Inspection Checklist sets your staff up for success in the case of a surprise health inspection. A detailed Restaurant Inspection Checklist can also serve as great training tool for your staff. It will set a standard process for safe kitchen operations and teach them important aspects of food handling, such as proper storage temperatures and Person In Charge (PIC): certified food protection managers who have shown proficiency of required information through passing a test that is part of an accredited program and are on-site at all times while the facility is in operation. Also, these assigned people must be designated in writing as the PIC.
How to Set up a Restaurant Inspection Checklist
Setting up a Restaurant Inspection Checklist may seem daunting, but luckily a lot of the work has already been done for you. A good place to start is using a form similar to the one supplied by the U.S. Department of Health for kitchen health standards.
Customize your Restaurant Inspection Checklist to operations that are unique to your business. Walk through your kitchen and look at it through the eyes of a health inspector. Make note of any potential issues and place them on the list.
When creating your Restaurant Inspection Checklist, you should include elements that ensure your restaurant will meet code. Some of these factors include:
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan: The HACCP Plan is a system that allows restaurant operators to identify risks in their food processes that could lead to contamination. Incorporating these plans into your Restaurant Inspection Checklist will control these risks and prevent foodborne illnesses. Rather than a one size fits all approach, this plan should cater to your restaurant’s unique menu, equipment processes and operations.
Temperatures: Educate your staff on the proper temperatures for food and food storage.
Proper Hand Sanitation: Contamination transferred through food handling can easily be prevented with proper sanitation practices.
Cleanliness: Include how frequently counters, ovens, grease traps and flat tops should be cleaned to avoid fire hazards or damage to the equipment. Review these cleaning processes with staff.
Overall Operations: This is an area to include additional processes that are unique to your business.
So, you’ve completed your Restaurant Inspection Checklist. All the necessary items are listed. You feel confident all the health inspection criteria are met. You’re ready…but what about your team? These three items will get everyone on board and prepared for the next inspection.
Staff Training: Why not leave training to the experts? There are many programs in place that will educate your staff on optimum food handling and safety practices. Your staff can enroll in Nevada’s Restaurant Association ServSafe food safety training program that will certify them in kitchen and food safety as well as keep you from losing THREE demerits.
Self-Inspections: Be your own health inspector, and schedule routine walk through with your managers and key staff to identify any potential issues. Continuously practicing inspections with your team will keep your standards in place all year.
Proper Tools: Have thermometers and test strips handy so your management team can randomly check food and storage containers to ensure the proper temperatures are maintained.
Kitchen inspections do not have to be stressful if you know what to expect. Your Restaurant Inspection Checklist is insurance that you will be prepared no matter when the inspector comes knocking! Now, put these tips into play, and get ready for your next inspection.