What Does A Restaurant Inspector Do?
Restaurant inspectors are food inspectors who conduct inspections in restaurants and other food establishments to ensure that they follow health and sanitation standards. They typically work for the health department of local governments and conduct these inspections regularly to check that the restaurant has taken the necessary precautions to prevent contamination of the food being handled. Their ultimate goal is to protect the health of the public who patronize restaurants and dining places on a regular basis.
Restaurant inspectors look for many things during their inspections which are usually conducted unannounced. Their inspection will include the management and staff, the cleanliness of the surroundings and most importantly, whether the restaurant is keeping infestation and disease under control.
When they conduct their inspection, restaurant inspectors will talk to the restaurant management and staff to determine if they are aware of their duties when it comes to food handling and safety. They will also check if the food handlers have the necessary health permits and clearances to do their job. They will also ask the restaurant managers and supervisors what measures and controls they have put in place to prevent instances of food poisoning and other dangers. They also scrutinize how they are managing and training their employees as far as food and safety is concerned.
In addition to their interviews, restaurant inspectors also note how employees actually go about their work. For example, they check if regular hand washing is practiced. They also see to it that the sink has flowing water, soap and paper towels. They also check that the food servers are neat, tidy and healthy.
Restaurant inspectors put a premium on the cleanliness of the entire restaurant. They determine if there is a regular cleaning schedule and if this is strictly being adhered to. They physically check the kitchen surfaces and cooking equipment like pots, pans and utensils to see if these are sanitary. One source of contamination is when knives, utensils and chopping boards that are used in preparing raw meat are also used to slice and dice salads and other recipes that are meant to be eaten fresh. They make sure that the restaurant has strict policies regarding the proper segregation of their tools and food preparation areas.
Rodents and insects are carriers of disease and have no place in any food establishment. Inspectors note if the restaurant has instituted cleanliness and infection control measures strictly enough to prevent rats and other insects from calling the restaurant home. The freezer is another area which could breed disease since food, especially raw meat, could easily go bad when not kept at the right temperatures. Restaurant inspectors ask for temperature control records to ensure that the temperatures are checked regularly.
During the entire inspection, the restaurant inspector will point out areas where the restaurant has not followed existing regulations and explain why a particular practice is not hygienic. They will also answer any questions that the management might have especially if they don’t quite agree with the evaluation of the inspector. The restaurant inspector is not only going to mention all the unsatisfactory things that the food facility is conducting. He will also applaud the restaurant for the excellent practices they follow which promote food sanitation and safety.
The restaurant inspector will carefully note critical violations of the law on food safety and give the restaurant another chance to make the necessary corrections before conducting another inspection. It’s important for restaurant owners to follow the recommendations of the inspectors because they risk shutting down their business if they don’t.
Restaurant inspectors make reports about each inspection they undertake. These are submitted to the local health departments and usually made available to the public online. By reading these inspection records, restaurant patrons will be able to determine which dining places are safe to eat in.
There are times when restaurant inspectors have to ultimately file a case against a restaurant for failure to uphold food safety standards. In these instances, they will need to collect samples of the food and have these tested for the presence of bacteria or other food-borne pathogens. These can be used as evidence in the case against the restaurant. Restaurant inspectors may then be called to testify in court about their findings. Depending on the gravity of the offense, the restaurant could get penalized with fines or even get their permit to operate revoked.