Health code inspections aren’t something owners or employees look forward to. In fact, they can be downright irritating. Beyond their ability to find the most minor potential violations, visits from inspectors normally interrupt workflow and make it difficult to keep business running efficiently.
Inspections do serve an important purpose, however. Keeping environments healthy and safe benefits both your business and your customers.
With that said, there are six major health code violations that could completely ruin your business. In this article, we’ll take a look at each one of them.
Temperature Store Violations
Foods such as beef, chicken, sushi and even salads are unsafe for consumption if they’re not maintained at appropriate temperatures. Foods that require refrigeration must be maintained at 40 degrees F.
After food is prepared and set for serving, hot foods need to remain at a temperature higher than 140 degrees. Harmful and dangerous bacteria grow rapidly in foods between 40 – 140 degrees. Food left in these temperature ranges are considered to be in the danger zone, and leave you open for a potential violation.
There are two typical mistakes an owner makes with storage refrigerators and walk-in refrigerators that leave them susceptible to major code violations.
The first one is putting hot or warm food items into the fridge without considering how it changes the overall environment temperature. Putting hot pots or pans into a refrigerated storage unit raises the ambient temperature of the food around it, sometimes to unsafe levels.
Be sure to allow time for hot items to balance out in temperature before you place them in the refrigerator. This will save you from serving food that was stored at an unsafe temperature, which is a serious code violation.
The second common storage violation is dripping. By storing chicken above a pan of beef, the chicken drippings will get into the beef. Potential bacteria in the drippings need to reach a temperature of 165 degrees in order to die. However, beef only needs to be cooked up to 145 degrees. The 20-degree difference could mean that salmonella survived the cooking process and put your customers in danger. To combat this problem, store meats with the most harmful or dangerous bacteria on the bottom of your refrigerator. This way, you’ll never need to worry about more heat-tolerant drippings not getting cooked off.
Your top-to-bottom storage order should look like this:
- Cooked seafood and meats
- Raw seafood
- Raw chicken
Make sure you always use well-sealed containers for all your stored food. All these steps will help avoid a storage violation.
There’s a major difference between a clean restaurant and a sanitized restaurant. Clean things look great to the eyes. But health inspectors (and more importantly, salmonella) don’t care about clean surfaces. They care if those surfaces are properly sanitized.
If you weren’t aware, cleaning with only the use of soap and water is considered a health code violation. Inspection-passing sanitizing requires the use of highly potent chemical cleaners that destroy 99.9% of all bacteria on every surface.
By not using the proper sanitizing chemicals in every place that bacteria might be living, you could face a violation that might ruin your business.
Cross-contamination is a common violation of the health code. Inspectors check to make sure that employees don’t contaminate foods as they work in the kitchen. For example, if an employee is spotted touching raw meat, then immediately mixing a salad without first washing his hands, you’ll be faced with a violation.
Employees also need to sanitize utensils and cutting boards immediately after coming into contact with a contaminant.
Hands always need to be washed in a consistent way. Splashing on a little soap and dipping hands in water for five seconds isn’t going to kill the bacteria. A great way to land a health code violation is by allowing kitchen staff to get lazy with their handwashing techniques, which should last at least 20 seconds.
Each local health regulator can have varying specs on what they require in equipment before they sign off on it. But in general, all your restaurant equipment must be NSF certified. When you call for a commercial grease trap cleaning, find out if your trap is NSF certified. Most cleaners will pride themselves on their attention to detail and certification, like Meeks Environmental who prides themselves on their commercial grease trap cleaning in Birmingham, AL. You can find a dedicated cleaner near you too! Remember, the most seemingly minor equipment violation can quickly ruin your business.
Don’t allow yourself or your staff to get lazy when it comes to health code requirements. Avoid these six violations, and keep your business safe and well-respected.