How Restaurants Can Prepare For a Health And Safety Inspection
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How Restaurants Can Prepare For a Health And Safety Inspection (+ Checklist)

It pays to prepare for a restaurant health and safety inspection. Follow these easy steps now before the inspector pays a visit to your restaurant.

3 mins readJuly 28, 2021

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Restaurant Inspections: What You Need to Know

Imagine stumbling into your favorite restaurant's kitchen by accident and being stunned by the utter chaos. A chef's culinary skills are useless if their kitchen isn't clean.

The federal government has enacted food safety rules that specify how stakeholders in the food production chain, such as those involved in manufacturing, processing, and distribution, handle food substances.

When you anticipate a health and safety inspection, the best plan is to always be ready.

Here are best practices to prepare for an unexpected health and safety inspection.

2 Key Components of Food and Health Safety

To better understand how you can get ready for random restaurant health and safety inspections, you first must consider what can streamline your inspection process.

Record Keeping

In the catering industry, records and regular inspections are critical because they consistently record previous incidents and food delivery. To guarantee that product is constantly fresh and usable, the best practice is to mark food with dates and maintain regular stock rotation.

You should gather proof of your current food safety practices in advance of a health and safety inspection. That's why it's best to keep records starting on the first day of business.

When it comes to food preparation, best practice dictates that cooking and reheating temperatures be properly displayed and labeled on all food items.

Remember that food must be stored below 41 degrees Fahrenheit and heated to temperatures above 140 degrees to be considered safe and free of bacteria. Your records should contain:

  • A cleaning checklist with the names of the cleaners, the places that they cleaned, and the cleaning chemicals used
  • Receipts and records of food deliveries, including dates
  • Temperatures in the refrigerator and display cabinet
  • Temperatures for cooking, cooling, and reheating
  • Items to be discarded and their disposal dates

You should also keep track of the traceability of each product. This identifies each product's journey from the point of origin to the point of sale.

As a restaurant owner, you'll need to keep track of each product's traceability. The intention is to maintain a record during the duration of the products' storage, to be examined during the inspection.

Training Your Staff

Compliance is critical because the food standards agency has the authority to close your business if you are found to violate health and safety regulations.

You have a legal obligation as a restaurant owner to ensure that your employees handle, serve, and preserve food in line with food safety laws. As a result, your employees will need to attend at least two food safety courses: Food Hygiene Training and Food Safety Awareness.

Restaurant supervisors should enroll in an additional course called Supervising Food Safety. This not only makes you more compliant, but it also makes your workplace safer for employees and customers and qualifies you for restaurant insurance.

While training your team keeps you compliant with the law, public liability insurance equips you for any possible incident.

Workers' compensation insurance, on the other hand, may be able to assist with medical expenses and any time off from work required to recover from injuries.

6 Tips to Get Ready for a Health and Safety Inspection

You should be well prepared for your health and safety inspection if you follow these six steps:

1. Examine your HACCP strategy

A HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plan is one tool for preparing for a health inspection. The HACCP method pinpoints the areas in the cooking process where contamination is most likely to occur. You can take steps to avoid contamination once the threats have been recognized.

2. Check with the health department in your area

Learn about the legislation and health inspection forms the officers will utilize so you know exactly what they will be searching for.

3. Conduct unannounced self-inspections at odd times

Health inspections can happen at any time, so everyone in your company must be ready. Review the results of your self-inspections with your personnel and discuss the corrective steps for any potential infractions. It's important to know what [risks to watch for](

4. Learn about the most prevalent health code breaches

Cross-contamination, personal hygiene, and internal temperature restrictions are all important safety concerns and common restaurant health code violations to be aware of.

5. Put your team to the test

Ask your employees safety questions regarding the tasks they are doing to ensure their inspection readiness for any questions the health inspector could have. To avoid cross-contamination, ask them what color food storage containers they should use to keep chicken, seafood, and vegetables.

6. Stay informed

Even after your self-inspection, keep an eye on how food is prepared and stored. Keep your managers informed about the latest food safety advancements so that they can assure compliance if you are not present.
Restaurant Owners

Complete Checklist to Pass Your Restaurant's Health Inspection

Do you know what to look for if you're conducting a self-inspection? Here's a restaurant health and safety inspection checklist:

Preserving Food

  • Food is stored at least 6 inches above ground level.
  • Food is kept in a sterile, dry environment.
  • The FIFO (First In, First Out) system is used to store food.
  • Food and chemicals are kept apart.

Preparation of Food

  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or under running water.
  • When handling food, employees use gloves, clean hands, and utensils.
  • Cross-contamination is avoided while food is prepared.
  • Before being placed in the hot holding room, food is heated to the proper temperature to kill microorganisms.

Maintenance of Freezers and Refrigerators

  • The thermometer is visible and accurately indicates the temperature.
  • The refrigerators and freezers are all spotless.
  • All the food is appropriately labeled and dated.
  • In walk-in refrigerators, food is kept at least 6 inches above the ground.


  • Washing, rinsing, and sanitizing are divided into three sections at the washing station.
  • The equipment is spotless to the eye and touch.
  • When stored, utensils are covered to protect them from dust and pollutants.
  • Water is heated to the proper sanitizing temperature.

Disposal of Refuse and Waste

  • Trash and garbage are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
  • Lids or covers are used on outside trash cans.
  • When the bins for garbage and recycling are full, they are emptied.
  • The area around the dumpster is free of rodents and other pests.
  • Trash bins are cleaned regularly to keep rats and bugs away.

Employee Health and Safety

  • Employees use correct hand-washing practices to wash their hands frequently
  • Eating and smoking are restricted to locations apart from the food preparation areas
  • Long-haired employees wear hairnets, and male employees hide their facial hair
Restaurant Tips How to Reduce Workers Compensation Claims

What Happens During a Health and Safety Inspection?

Inspection readiness prepares you for a health and safety inspector to inspect all areas of your restaurant to determine whether you comply with food safety laws.

The inspection can take several hours, so plan ahead of time to show inspectors around if they come to see you. The officer uses the restaurant inspection list to review the following:

  • Personal cleanliness
  • Labeling practices
  • Upkeep of equipment
  • Practices for pest control
  • Avoiding contamination
  • Cleaning techniques
  • Temperature regulation
  • The state of the premises
  • Methods use to assure food safety

As they inspect your premises, there are several actions that a health and safety inspector can take. The Food Law Code of Practice states that inspectors should:

  • If it's suitable or desired, give counsel
  • Encourage food service providers to follow best practices
  • Discuss any corrective steps
  • Notify you of any additional actions the inspector intends to take

Business owner requirements

The business owner is required to:

  1. Check the inspector's credentials: If the inspector does not present them to you voluntarily, you should ask. If you're still unsure, check with your local health department to prevent being conned by an impostor looking for free company information.

  2. Follow the inspector: To get a firsthand look at any restaurant problems, follow the inspector. It's worth noting that you can remedy some breaches immediately. These infractions will be marked as corrected on the spot, which is more reassuring to potential customers than an out-of-compliance label.

  3. Sign the inspection report: Once you have reviewed all the comments contained in the restaurant inspection list, sign the inspection report. This does not imply that you agree with the conclusions; instead, it proves that you received a copy.

  4. Seek clarity: If you don't understand something the inspector claims is a violation, ask for an explanation. You can't fix an issue unless you know what it is.

Avoid rejecting an inspection because it would just cause further delays. The inspector will return soon, armed with an inspection warrant and, more than likely, a sour disposition.

It is not recommended to offer the inspector any food or drink. Be kind and friendly, but anything more could be misconstrued as a bribe to influence the inspection report.

Food handler

What Happens After an Inspection?

The officer will give your restaurant a score after the health and safety inspection is completed. Your score should not come as a surprise if you were following the inspector during your inspection.

It would be best to learn about restaurant rating systems to comprehend your score and how it affects your business. You can start correcting any probable infractions after you understand your score.

Also, keep up with adequate property maintenance. Regularly inspecting your property and addressing problems as soon as they arise can help you save time and money in the long term.

General liability insurance covers you in case a person is injured in your restaurant. However, it would be best if you discussed your restaurant insurance needs with your insurance company, including cost and appropriate insurance cover, lest you miss any important aspects.

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