The proper strategy for a successful health inspection is to be ready for an inspection at any time. To stay ahead of the game, managers can conduct weekly, in-house inspections before health inspector arrives.
- Use the same form ̶ or a similar form ̶ that your health department uses, and put yourself in the health inspector's place. Check with your local health department on what regulations and forms are being used.
- Walk into your establishment from the outside to get an outsider's impression.
- Brief your kitchen staff to review any problems post-inspection. This will help convey the importance of food safety to staff members.
- Ensure all staff are on the same page. If your staff includes employees for whom English is a second language, have the findings translated so everyone understands how important food safety is to the success of your restaurant. Consider hiring a professional translator. A bilingual staff member might use terms or phrases that might not make sense or could be misinterpreted in other dialects.
- Know your priorities. Your self-inspection priorities for kitchen employees should include: food time and temperatures, personal hygiene (including hand washing) and cross contamination. Temperature guidelines include checking the temperature of products when they arrive, when they are stored and when they are served.
- Reinforce the importance of hand washing. Post signs at all kitchen sinks and in employee restrooms.
- Train your managers to ensure they are up-to-date on the latest food-safety techniques. Restaurant employees can use the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's ServSafe food-safety training programs.
- Review your local health code for any special, local requirements.
- Get involved politically to give a restaurateur’s perspective. One opportunity could be to join your state's health-code-revision committee. Involve senior staff on such committees as well.
Now that you have prepared for the inspection, you need to know what to do when the health inspector arrives. Be warned that inspections usually arrive unannounced, so you'll want to be ready on any occasion, even during rush hours.