Your Business Could Be Saved by Your Health Inspector
Managers may experience a sinking feeling when they hear these words. An inspection can be stressful, even if everything appears to be in order. It may feel intimidating having a health inspector come into your home; many people worry that this test will be difficult and they won’t pass. But inspections don’t have to be intimidating!
Health inspectors and you share similar objectives. Both of us strive to prevent foodborne illnesses and keep the public healthy and contented. Your establishment can be an invaluable resource because health inspectors usually possess a degree in food safety as well as extensive training. They can identify areas for improvement that could reduce food safety risks; additionally, they may assist with developing procedures and policies related to food safety management.
Vern Johnson, an environmental health director in Kalamazoo (Michigan), has over two decades of experience conducting health inspections. He believes managers and inspectors must collaborate. Managers possess the know-how to get products from the backdoor into the kitchen; inspectors handle food safety. Managers lack this expertise.” Working together with a health inspector can help improve your business operations and prevent you from becoming a food safety disaster.
Johnson gave us an overview of what to expect during inspections. Knowing what to expect can help reduce nerves by knowing what to expect. Although inspections may differ across health departments, there are certain commonalities.
Johnson detailed the inspection process used by his inspectors.
1) When an inspector arrives, they’ll first meet with you and discuss the menu and processes of your establishment together. This provides them with a shared understanding and expedites the inspection process. Furthermore, the inspector gains more insight into how operations at your establishment run.
2) Next, the inspector will take a tour of your facility. To help them comprehend your operation better, treat them as if they were new employees and explain how food safety is handled. You may notice safety gaps or violations as you move through the facility; remember: inspectors don’t wear violations as a badge of honor but rather are here to help!
3) Your inspector will identify any problems and offer suggestions to improve food safety at your establishment. Even if all programs are running smoothly, something may have been overlooked. An inspector can help identify these issues so that together you can work to resolve them. Ultimately, working together with your inspector will make your business safer overall.
Inspectors don’t expect perfection. They understand the requirements of foodservice and want to know if your programs are functioning correctly and if your foods are safe. Remember: an inspection isn’t a test; it’s just an evaluation to make sure everything’s in order. It doesn’t necessarily mean you failed if something needs improvement; rather, it serves as motivation to improve and make food safer for customers while making it more delicious for you!
Food safety isn’t just about inspections. As Johnson said, “What you do when no one’s there is just as important as what you do when there.” An inspector’s role is to assist you and your team by offering solutions and encouraging thought about problems that arise. After inspecting your establishment, brainstorm ways to address any problems identified so that safety can improve in your establishment.” Your inspector can make all the difference when it comes to improving safety in your establishment.”
Johnson shares an example of how he helped a team. An owner asked if Johnson would be available to assist with their problems and offer solutions, and Johnson was eager to do so – though he wanted employees to come up with their own creative solutions. Johnson stated, “I point out some issues and let the students figure out their own issues that fit within their systems.” It’s more efficient for you and your team to work together on finding solutions than working individually; after all, your procedures and systems are best known by you! When both teams come together, your chances for success are much greater.
Health inspectors can be invaluable resources when managing your resources. They’re happy to answer any queries about opening a new business or starting from zero, and many health departments welcome business owners/operators visiting their offices for answers. Even though it isn’t their primary role, inspectors might be able to direct you towards approved suppliers, certain locations, or other useful info – inspectors want you succeed!
Johnson would tell food workers and managers this: “Our aim is not to shut down restaurants; rather, our focus is on fixing things. Our common objective is reducing food risk – when we do that, everyone wins!”