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What Do Health Inspectors Look For In Your Restaurant?

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February 02, 2024

The CDC estimates that 48 million people get sick from food-borne illnesses every year. To help keep the number as low as possible, restaurants are subject to routine health inspections. The number one goal of restaurant health inspections is to evaluate a restaurant’s food safety and hygiene practices to mitigate food-related illness. The health inspector’s job is to perform a thorough analysis to determine the overall safety and adherence to health codes.

What Happens During a Kitchen Inspection?


When an inspector shows up at your establishment, they will perform the following reviews and evaluations:

  • Facility Setup: Does the kitchen contain all necessary sanitation and safety items? Is there access to hot water, proper ventilation and drainage, and are light fixtures covered?
  • Food Temperature Control: Is the food cooked to its proper minimum internal temperature? Are temperature logs maintained during cooking, holding, and receiving food?
  • Food Preparation Protocols: Are ingredients prepared following health standards to prevent contamination? For example, is the food washed thoroughly, meals created from fresh products, ingredients purchased from a reputable supplier, and spoiled food discarded?
  • Food Storage: Are refrigerated ingredients stored according to the food hierarchy system? Are dry items kept in cool, dry places? Are all items in their proper containers and labeled with name and date? Is the restaurant following First In First Out (FIFO) protocols?
  • Legal Documents: Are all necessary permits, licenses, signage, and food safety certificates completed, on-premises and adequately displayed?
  • Pest Control: Are all holes, cracks, or other open areas sealed to prevent pests from entering the kitchen and service areas? Are rubbish bins routinely emptied?  Are there any visible signs of rodents, insects, or other pests?
  • Sanitation and Hygiene: Are all surfaces, equipment, and utensils adequately cleaned and disinfected to prevent cross-contamination? Do staff members follow the appropriate hand wash-handling procedures—at least 20 seconds— when moving from task to task and upon returning to the kitchen after breaks? Are team members wearing gloves when necessary and covering hair and beards?

4 Ways to Prepare for a Restaurant Health Inspection 

While the list above might seem daunting, it shouldn’t be difficult to pass a health inspection with flying colors! Why? As a restaurant owner, you already care about the safety of your guests and crew, so you’re likely already following all the appropriate rules and regulations a health inspector checks. However, if you want to ensure the next inspection goes without a hitch, there are four things you can easily implement.

1. Develop a Food Safety Plan

First and foremost, you want to ensure your kitchen combats food-borne illness and employs a robust health and safety plan. Proper food handling and sanitation procedures are a surefire way to keep your kitchen and guests safe.

  • Post signage related to proper handwashing techniques. Ensure all your staff are washing their hands according to regulations.
  • Always clean and disinfect surfaces, equipment, utensils, and common areas.
  • Stop cross-contamination by keeping raw and cooked foods separate. Use food hierarchy methods when storing cold food. Keep posters on the doors of refrigerators as a helpful reminder. 
  • Always cook ingredients to their designated temperature. Have thermometers easily accessible for staff.

2. Schedule Regular Staff Meetings Around  Food Safety

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, which means some protocols might get neglected or forgotten. Making sure you have regular meetings and in-house safety training for the entire crew ensures food safety rules are always fresh on their minds.

3. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Restaurant technology has come leaps and bounds in recent years, especially regarding food safety. Investing in digital checklists, food traceability software, and automated temperature systems can help keep your kitchen safe. Automating procedures can also reduce human error and save on labor costs.

4. Stock Up on Professional-Quality Storage Containers

Reduce spoilage, keep your food fresh longer, and protect from pests when you use proper storage containers. Cambro containers come in a variety of stackable sizes and can be used for dry goods, hot items, and cold foods.

US Foods CHEF’STORE Stocks Restaurant Cleaning Essentials and Storage Solutions

CHEF’STORE provides only the highest quality products at competitive prices. In addition to exceptional food items, we stock everything you need to maintain a safe kitchen—from Cambro containers to color-coded cutting boards, professional-strength cleaning products, and more. 

Visit one of our many locations near you and see what we offer. Don’t forget to take advantage of our business tools to enhance your best practices.

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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