What should be done following health violations from an inspection?

Read this article to learn what should be don’t following health violations from an inspection.

What should be done following health violations from an inspection?

Health inspections ensure that food products are being handled and prepared according to legal regulations and are essential in preventing food-borne illnesses. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates foodborne illnesses cause 48 million hospital visits, 128,000 long-term hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths annually. These findings influence the 70% of diners that are unwilling to visit restaurants that violate the health code. This article will explore how to put the proper food safety systems in place to prevent the consequences of health violations. 

What is a health inspection?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a ‘food establishment’ must be inspected at least once every six months. However, local jurisdictions carry out health inspections in restaurants. 

Most health inspectors grade on a letter or number-based scorecard. Every violation reduces a restaurant’s score. In general, inspectors evaluate elements of sanitation like food quality, cold storage conditions, and cleanliness. 

Inspectors also look for evidence that restaurant staff carries out sanitation practices regularly. It is common to present paper records that show staff performing tasks such as mopping the floor or checking cold storage temperatures hourly or daily.

What should be done immediately following violations from a health inspection?

If a restaurant does not perform sanitary protocols, it results in a violation. The penalty following a violation depends on severity. They range from serious health hazards to non-critical violations.

Non-critical violations

Restaurants are usually not financially penalized in the case of non-critical violations. However, the inspectors keep a permanent record to follow up on within 45 days. 

These include: 

  • Lack of facility cleanliness 
  • Improper labeling of food items 
  • Improper cleaning of equipment and utensils 

Serious health hazards

The penalties for serious health hazards are usually fines. In severe circumstances, restaurants risk temporary closure. If restaurants cannot ensure compliance with food safety guidelines in a follow-up inspection, there is the possibility of a lawsuit or permanent closure.

Some examples are: 

  • Operating without hot water
  • Improperly monitoring and cooling food products 
  • Evidence of a vermin infestation
  • Failing to have a certified food manager on duty during hours of operation 

How to prevent health violations

While health code violations are catastrophic, they are also avoidable. Use the following tips to prevent two of the most serious.

Preventing cross-contamination vilotations 

The best way to prevent cross-contamination is to implement a safer storage strategy. When storing different items, consider following this order from top to bottom:

  • Raw produce
  • Cooked produce
  • Cooked meats
  • Cooked seafood
  • Raw seafood
  • Raw beef
  • Raw pork
  • Raw chicken

It is necessary to conduct checks every night to ensure that your food is stored correctly to eliminate any chance of cross-contamination.

Preventing temperature monitoring violations

All restaurant owners must monitor that their refrigerated goods are stored safely and ensure that cold storage has not slipped into the food safety danger zone. The food safety danger zone refers to temperatures ranging between 40° F and 140° F.  The longer your food sits in this range, the higher the risk of being unsafe for consumption. Using wireless sensors to monitor cold storage conditions can prevent this violation. Inspectors and operators can trust that the data they are receiving is accurate, properly recorded, and easy to analyze.

Accurate temperature data also helps spot trends that indicate malfunctioning equipment. For example, a layer of frost on stored items or a slow warming trend can precipitate a breakdown. 

When breakdowns occur, they may be unnoticed for some time. During this period, inventory may slip into the danger zone, resulting in a violation if unnoticed.  

Conclusion

You may not be able to control the timing of a health inspection. However, by taking these steps, you will be prepared when it occurs. Replacing standard paper logs with remote temperature monitoring and digital records can further aid in this effort. 

Therma° is building temperature sensor technology that ensures legal compliance and prevents equipment downtime. Our sensors log data and provide analytics to keep tabs on your storage conditions. By automating manual temperature checks, operators can ensure that their restaurants are following safe food storage protocols. 

To learn more about how Therma° can help your restaurant avoid health code violations, read more articles here, download our whitepaper, or schedule a meeting with a member of our team.