There are times when running food safety manager courses when we hear a student ask how to deal with their local health inspector. We find that there are many misconceptions about the health department’s roll and what their goals are when they come to inspect food production facilities. Let’s about the food safety manager and health inspector shared interest.
The Food Safety Manager and Health Inspector Goals
We’ve heard some kitchen managers speculate that the health inspector is out to get them, and that their main purpose is to find as many violations as possible in order to shut restaurants down. We’d like to counter that this is absolutely not the case. The food safety manager’s goals should correspond with your local health department’s objectives.
As a Minnesota certified food manager, you are under an obligation to make sure that the food you serve is safe. The health inspector’s job is not to punish you for not following the health code to the letter, but to help you keep your food safe.
When the time rolls around for your inspection, provide any information your inspector needs to complete their task. Keeping all of your certification records in an easily accessible location goes a long way towards letting them get on with the inspection process. The inspector will greatly appreciate if you allow them to go about their tasks with minimal interference. They may have a question or request from time to time, so make sure that you make time to assist them when necessary. We suggest even walking along with them as they do the inspection if possible.
If they arrive during a busy shift, you’ll find that they’ll normally be more than patient and courteous enough not to interfere with your regular routine.
Once the inspection is complete, make sure that you go over the report before they leave. This is the ideal time to ask questions, seek advice for tricky food safety scenarios and get an overall report as to how well your facility protects its guests from food-borne illness.
Remember, both you, as a food safety manager and health inspector are working to achieve the same objective… keeping the food you serve to guests safe. Coordinating with an experienced professional such as your local health inspector can help you see your operation from a different perspective and refine your procedures.
How do you deal with your inspector when they visit your facility? Do you take time out of your day to interact with them, or do you let them go about their inspection as quickly as possible?