3 Things You Should Do Before Your Next Restaurant Inspection

An inspection of your restaurant can be a source of stress for you and your employees. It's important to remember, though, that you and the inspector actually have the same goal in mind. You both want your patrons to have a fantastic experience at your restaurant. With that in mind, follow the three tips below to ensure that you're ready the next time the health inspector shows up.

1. Perform Regular Self-Inspections

Getting into the habit of performing regular self-inspections ensures that you and your team stay up-to-date on expectations and avoid overlooking crucial items. If your state uses a standard form for their restaurant inspections, make this document the backbone of your self-inspection.

Perform unannounced self-inspections on your own employees since you'll rarely know before the health inspector arrives. Enter your restaurant from the outside as the inspector would and try to scrutinize everything listed on the document as an outsider might see it. Go over the results of your self-inspection with your employees. Tie in each violation with its related corrective action that needs to be taken to help your employees understand the connection and alleviate any future issues.

2. Involve Everyone

Everyone -- from managers on down -- should be kept up-to-date on the latest developments and expectations in food safety. Make sure that your employees know the answers to basic safety questions in the event that the restaurant inspector makes an inquiry of them. All of your team members, for example, should know when they need to wash their hands and why. Your managers should be familiar with any codes that are applicable to your restaurant.

3. Pay Special Attention to Key Safety Issues

Key safety issues are those that deserve your special attention. An employee that isn't wearing a hair net, for example, or who doesn't understand the importance of making sure that your dishwasher is properly sanitizing your dishes, can result in a citation, fines, loss of reputation -- or worse for your restaurant. Be proactive when it comes to addressing these key issues. For instance, make it easy for employees to keep their hair tidy by keeping a supply of hair nets in the office. Ensure that your dishes always have a surface temperature of at least 160 degrees by using convenient and waterproof thermometer strips in your dishwasher -- every time it's operated.

Changing your mindset from one that feels like "you versus them" when it comes to the health inspector to a partnership between the two of you can go a long way toward making restaurant inspections smooth. By following the above tips -- and practicing them at all times -- you'll set your restaurant up to receive the highest scores possible.

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