How to prepare for a health inspection

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Written By DerrickCalvert

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How Can You Prepare for an Inspection?

Be ready for your health inspection. Canadian Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) inspect restaurants and other food-service establishments; they’re also known as Environmental Health Officers or simply “Inspectors”.

Health inspections are conducted to confirm the legitimacy of food safety inspections, verifying adherence to relevant regulations, ordinances and municipal bylaws. Furthermore, inspectors verify if facilities adhere to safe food handling protocols and certify their food preparation and sale is suitable for human consumption.

What are the duties of Health Inspectors?

Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) have the authority to enter any premises where food handling activities take place or relevant documentation, products, or equipment can be found. Inspections on site can be scheduled or unscheduled.

An Inspector must have full access to all areas in your facility in order to inspect everything. Any employee within the facility is strictly forbidden from making false or misleading statements while performing their duties.

An inspector may:

  • Examine ingredients and dishes in food products.
  • Check any food storage container, receptacle or package for evidence of storage.
  • For further analysis, take samples of both components and dishes for testing purposes.
  • Request food safety documentation and training records as appropriate.
  • Make copies of records, documents, food handler certificates and other pertinent paperwork.
  • Ask any employee on site if you have questions about what health inspectors look for when inspecting a premises.

Health inspectors will look for a number of criteria when inspecting an area. Here are some key things they may look out for:

1) High-risk foods (also referred to as potentially hazardous foods) should be stored at the appropriate temperatures (e.g., cooked poultry isn’t kept in the Temperature Danger Zone).

2) Food safety must be ensured (e.g., stored or displayed in tightly fitting containers).

3) Food contact surfaces that are easy to clean and disinfect (e.g., equipment in good condition that meets its intended purpose is constructed from materials which can be easily washed and disinfected).

4) Employees must maintain good personal hygiene at all times (i.e., wearing clean and appropriate clothing for work and washing their hands when exposed to germs or contaminants).

5) Effective cleaning and sanitizing are being conducted (e.g., after each use, dishware, kitchen equipment and utensils are thoroughly cleansed and disinfected).

6) On-site certification of food handlers (at least one supervisor or Food Handler must have completed a nationally recognized course in food handling).

How should you prepare for a health inspection?

You’ll have fewer issues during an inspection if you’ve trained your staff in food safety and implemented safe handling procedures. Being ready for inspection at all times is paramount; to guarantee this readiness, take these steps:

  • Be aware of your legal responsibilities and understand the laws that affect your business.
  • Make certain all food handlers possess necessary food safety knowledge and abilities.
  • Confirm that some staff members, both food handlers and managers alike, have obtained certification in food safety.
  • Be mindful of potential food safety hazards when prepping or cooking food.
  • To assess where you might be lacking, conduct random self-inspections.
  • Confirm that any violations previously found have been corrected; review the most recent inspection results to confirm.

Canada has a comprehensive, mandatory and regulated food safety training system. However, the number of employees required to take an official course in food handling varies by jurisdiction. Visit our Laws & Requirements Page for more details regarding the food safety training requirements in your territory or province.

How to Accompass a Health Inspection

Conducting a health inspection can be intimidating for any business. Here is some guidance on how to effectively tackle this important step.

Every employee should be taught to notify their manager if an Inspector arrives at their business. This way, the manager can determine whether this inspection was routine or due to customer complaints.

Managers may contact their local health authority to confirm the credentials of an Inspector if they wish to guarantee his integrity.

Although you cannot (and should not!) refuse an inspection of a facility, you can still accompany the inspector as they tour it. This gives you the chance to ask questions and obtain clarification regarding their findings.

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