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Guests expect that the food they eat when they come to your establishment will be, at the very least, safe to eat. Having a customer send back food because they didn't like it can cause an extra expense and add extra cooking time in an already busy kitchen. However, when a customer or a number of customers get sick due to food poisoning, it can be your eatery's worst nightmare. You may be tempted to take shortcuts, such as not hitting every step on your cleaning checklist or buying less than ideal food storage. However, this could result in your guests getting sick or large fines from the health department upon a surprise visit, which is why a plan of action is vital.
There are a few key ways that you can avoid a health code violation and fine, including:
Avoiding health code violations can seem like a lot of work, especially when the list of cleaning and code requirements is so long. These requirements must not be taken lightly, as they exist to keep your restaurant operating safely and your guests safe while eating. The policies and guidelines set by the FDA have only gotten stricter since the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring health inspectors to increase their standards and even make changes to health codes.
Keeping yourself and your staff up-to-date with any changes that are made to FDA and state guidelines is imperative to avoiding these common mistakes. Because the departments that regulate health codes typically operate with some element of surprise, maintaining the highest level of cleanliness is key. If you and your staff is always prepared, you are less likely to be negatively surprised or fined.
Many eateries make the mistake of assuming that health code violations will not result in illness or they won't get caught. However, restaurants both small and large — take Chipotle as a prime example, have proven that these types of food health code violations can impact your establishment's reputation and your bottom line. You could even lose your business if the fines are large enough or you aren't able to take care of the violations quickly enough to reopen your doors.
Here's a few common violations:
Keeping your guests safe by avoiding common health code violations like food contamination should be your top priority. A health inspection checklist should be present in every restaurant or food establishment. Being prepared for an unexpected health inspection or one that you believe may be upcoming is the best way to avoid violations. To ensure you're up to code, find the maintenance supplies you need for a spotless facility.
When violations do occur, it is important that you take thorough notes and ask for a detailed report so you can quickly remedy them and not add any extra confusion or steps. In some cases, you might be able to correct a violation during the inspection if you are present and able to do so. Being polite, non-argumentative, and asking for as much information as possible will help you take effective action after the inspection is over. Make a list of action items, such as buying new food storage or PPE, and create a plan of how you will get these code violations taken care of in a timely manner.
Depending on the type of code violations, you may be fined, asked to remedy them within a period of time—or if the violations are severe enough—temporarily shut down until you can create a safer environment for your guests. Keeping customers happy and coming into your establishment is a top priority, so correcting these violations and creating a plan to prevent them from occurring again is essential. The last thing you want is word getting out that you have received a low grade from the health department or that guests have gotten sick in your establishment.
Only Hubert delivers the expertise and products to solve complex challenges like overcoming the labor shortage, driving more food sales, and creating a memorable experience for customers.
For 75 years we've helped many industries—including hospitality, education, food retail, healthcare, retail, and more—overcome these unique challenges with our expertise and line of products, including displayware, display fixtures, décor, signage, bar & beverage, food prep equipment, large commercial equipment, ice machines, merchandisers, and back of the house equipment.
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