Whenever the health inspector arrives at your establishment for a routine inspection, they’ll more than likely pull out a clipboard with a kitchen inspection checklist of common violations to look for. We think that creating your own checklist is an important tool for certified food managers, and regularly scheduled self-checks of your kitchen will ensure you’ve maintained an environment that prevents the spread of food-borne illnesses.
Creating a Commercial Kitchen Inspection Checklist
Your checklist should resemble that of your local health inspector’s list. An inspector checks these common things shortly after they walk into your establishment:
- The availability of soap, hot water and paper towels at handwashing stations
- Cold storage refrigeration temperatures
- The availability of probe thermometers
- The availability of properly mixed sanitizer solutions
- Hands free food-handling compliance
- Proper posting of food handling certificates
Your local health department prioritizes these six things during an inspection, so you should make sure that your facility has these items covered on a daily basis. During an inspection, an official checks cooked and hot-held foods for proper temperatures. Include a review session with your staff to make sure they know their holding temperatures for all products.
Also, your staff’s handwashing technique will be observed. Posting a handwashing procedure chart helps remind your team to be diligent
Your checklist should not only include routine checks of your refrigeration temperature, but a reminder to make sure food is stored properly. Stocking raw proteins above produce or ready to eat foods results in a violation and increases the risk of cross contamination. Rules require proteins to be stored in descending order of final cooking temperatures. Raw chicken and poultry must remain on the bottom shelf. We recommend that you section off your cold storage so that raw meat and fresh produce have very little chance of coming into contact with each other.
Finally, your commercial kitchen inspection checklist should include a review of the maintenance of your equipment. Regularly inspecting equipment lets you know if any mechanical issues exist that could possibly cause problems in the future. This reduces waste in the event of a refrigerator malfunction, and prevents shutdowns due to faulty cooking equipment.
Tailoring your inspection checklist to your establishment’s specific needs is important. No two food production facilities are the same. What things do you regularly look for when inspecting your facility?