Does a visit from the local council for a health inspection send your restaurant into a full-on panic? Many food production facilities and restaurants become nervous when it is time for a health inspection. They want everything to be perfect so that they do not get a notice in the mail following the visit. Tensions are high especially due to the COVID-19 virus, so it is more important now than ever to get your kitchen in tip-top condition.
The local council may visit you at any point during the food production and distribution process. You will receive no notice before they visit. The inspection will be done using the Food Law Code of Practice, and the frequency with which you will be visited depends upon how large of a risk your business poses to the consumer. For instance, food retailers and caterers are more frequently visited. Learn more about your local council enforcement officers here.
The local council will inspect your facility, the food, your records and the procedures you have in place. They can even take food samples or photograph food to ensure you are complying with food safety laws. Once the inspection is over, you will receive a letter summarising any necessary improvements. You will need to confirm the improvements have been made with your officer. If you have major issues, you will receive a notice and the officer will come back to make sure you have made the necessary changes. Common notices received are regarding unsafe food temperatures, personal hygiene issues, cleanliness issues, improper food storage and cross contamination.
You can avoid these violations with a few basic steps. Wash stations should be in high traffic areas and they should be fully stocked with soap and paper towels. Always keep cleaning supplies fully stocked and create a list of what needs to be cleaned and when. The facility should be free from dirt, dust and other food particles. Implement regular food safety training for staff members and begin using food safety labels. They will allow for organised, easy labelling. Know what kind of food it is, when it was prepared, what temperature it was stored at, its use-by date and who prepared it. Properly stored food lessens food waste. You could also utilise the Date Code Genie® system, which helps ensure food safety and prevents cross contamination with automated labelling.
Remember that food inspections are designed to keep the public safe and make sure you are following food safety rules; they are not an attempt to shut your business down.