Restaurants, food kiosks, and other food-service operations are regulated by local health inspectors to ensure that they meet safety standards with each bite that every customer takes. Health inspections are routinely conducted, and the fact is, there’s only one desirable outcome: passing.
Even the smallest violations can result in hefty fines that can put a dent in your profits, while repeat violations and larger infractions can result in closures in less than 24 hours. At the end of the day, it’s simply not good business sense to incur food safety violations. Word of a restaurant closure can spread quickly among your customer base, rapidly forcing any establishment out of the market.
Avoiding a Health Code Violation
Health code violations take a lot of forms. These could be as simple as failing to provide washroom supplies for staff and customers, to failing to practice proper hygiene, to very serious and hazardous offences such as cross-contamination during storage or rodent infestation.
While either scenario can cause a setback, or worse, lead to a devastating outcome for your business, what’s important to know is that they can be avoided well-ahead of your next health inspection.
What are the most common health code violations in the food industry? Find out now, and learn how you can ace your next health inspection.
Common Health Code Violations
When people think of health code violations, it’s often the major infractions that come to mind; the ones that prompt inspectors to shut down an establishment. But contrary to popular belief, smaller violations can pile up too, resulting in multiple citations or warnings; if these are left unaddressed or found to have been repeated, you could be looking at large fines and restrictions.
The silver lining here is that these highly common violations are often minor and easy to address. And because health inspections are conducted according to set guidelines, it’s not impossible to keep track and do some extra cleaning of these common sites for violations.
For instance, your commercial refrigerator plays a large part in health inspections, as it is responsible for optimal food storage. You can expect the inspector to thoroughly go through the cooling unit and find these common violations:
- Lack of interior release and lights not working properly
- Spoiled or poorly packaged food
- Bad odour and possible contamination
- Spills or pieces of food left lying around
- Poor temperature control inside the commercial refrigerator and ventilation surrounding the cooling equipment
- Growth of mould in the commercial refrigerator
- Storage of food inside the refrigerator for over 24 hours without proper labels detailing sell-by date
- Poor kitchen layout, creating hard-to-reach areas and other cleaning constraints surrounding the commercial refrigerator
- Rust on panels and floors
- Worn gasket preventing proper closing of the refrigerator door
- Roach or pest infestation in the gaskets, drain line, and the immediate surroundings of the refrigerator.
Add to these common violations concerning the refrigerator are other general conditions that inspectors cite for the potential hazards they pose:
Since the biggest concern in the food industry is customer safety, inspectors are quick to note food safety violations pertaining to storage temperature. Food stored anywhere between 5 to 57 degrees Celsius is considered to be at risk of spoilage because the warm conditions allow disease-causing bacteria to thrive.
Food stored in commercial refrigerators needs to be organized according to type. Cross-contamination between produce and raw meat can lead to dangerous bacteria, and it can start in storage. A simple but effective way to prevent this early is to store produce at the top and raw meat at the bottom. When taking out these items for food preparation, make sure to use colour-coded cutting boards and disposable gloves to prevent cross-contamination.
Poor personal hygiene
One of the most common agents of disease is the kitchen staff handling food. Establishments cited for health code violations because of this reason are often run by staff who do not wash their hands properly with soap and use disposable gloves and hair-nets.
Poor kitchen sanitation
Up there with poor personal hygiene is a poorly kept workstation. To avoid this, it’s essential to only use equipment once it has been properly sanitized, and maintain a spotless kitchen free of any residue, dirt, and debris.
Prepare for a Health Inspection
The fact remains that the best way to prepare for a health inspection is to consistently maintain a clean kitchen, from refrigerator and pantry to the food preparation stations. Rather than doing a thorough cleaning prior to a scheduled inspection, it’s best to treat every day as if a health inspector could walk through the doors at any second. This allows you to rest assured of the safety of your food with every bite your customers take.
To prepare for a health inspection, make sure to identify key safety issues in your commercial kitchen, such as cross-contamination, personal hygiene, and food storage temperature requirements. You can also reach out to your local Health Canada office for specific concerns and work off their recommendations.
You can also conduct random in-house inspections and drills to get the rest of your team in the habit of practicing food safety and discuss improvements that need to be made as a team. Outside of these factors that within your control, you can also review the list of suppliers that you work with to ensure that they are providing stock that is certifiably safe. While you may not be directly liable for bad stock, this puts both your customers and the establishment at risk, so it’s important to limit your exposure.
Start With the Right Commercial Refrigerator
Commercial refrigerators play a crucial role in food storage and safety, and for this, it’s essential to equip your establishment with a unit that you can trust.
Professional commercial refrigerators
pack the best of cold storage requirements for all types of food products, especially produce and raw meat. They are designed with robust and durable exteriors to withstand high-volume operations and offer better protection of food products.
Each unit is equipped with a top-of-the-line compressor, motor, and temperature control to ensure that food is kept as safe as possible. The glass doors add a nice finish for displaying specialty products, providing maximum visibility and ease of access. When you have a commercial refrigerator in your kitchen
, you can count on food at its freshest and most flavourful.
For more information about commercial refrigerators and their food safety benefits, call Ancaster Food Equipment at 866-711-5486 or contact us here