A health inspection can only go well if you’re prepared. Start with your food handlers card.
A visit from the health inspector is like getting pulled over by a cop – you’re already in trouble. Once the interaction begins, your only job is to have it end without incident. In both cases, it’s wise to be careful with everything you say and do. Their job is to give you a ticket – or worse. If you argue with them, or merely volunteer any unasked information, they will make you pay.
After the inspector comments that the redundant extra hand-sink in the back of the prep kitchen (which only exists because the county demanded it) doesn’t get hot within the mandated 12.9 seconds, they’ll turn their twitchy little eyes to the food handlers card. (And another thing, after we installed a hand-sink that no one will use, since there’s already one closer to the prep station, the county then taxed us for an additional tap and drain. Not that I’m still mad about that or anything…)
That’s why you don’t want to have any discrepancies with your employees’ food handlers card. If they can find nothing else, they’ll pick on petty little details you’d never even know about.
Melissa Smith at eFoodHandlers®, gave us some advice on how you can ensure your staff has proper food safety certification and training.
Not All Food Safety Training is Created Equally
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) coordinates the U.S. voluntary consensus standards system. Melissa states that, “ANSI-Accredited food handler programs are required to meet a rigorous set of standards in order to earn their accreditation.” Finding a food safety training course that is ANSI Accredited, like the one eFoodHandlers provides, can give you assurance that your employees are getting food safety training that meets the national standard.
It’s good to have one food handler certification provider you trust, and recommend that all your employees go through that provider when renewing or getting their food handlers card for the first time. This will remove any confusion on your employees’ part and ensure your employees are actually getting a food handlers card that is accepted in your area.
There are a lot of providers online, but sometimes those providers don’t have jurisdiction in the county/state of your business.
Location is Everything
As mentioned before, not all regulations transfer from state to state and according to Melissa, they can even vary between counties. It’s extremely important that you know which food safety training providers are approved in the location of your business. Melissa states, “The best way is to always check with your local health department.” She continues, “They are generally the definitive resource and will usually list their approved providers under the food handlers card section of their website.”
There are a lot of providers online, but sometimes those providers don’t have jurisdiction in the county/state of your business. This could get you in trouble with Health Inspectors down the road, as your employees’ food handlers cards will not be considered valid for your area. Maintaining a relationship with your local health department will keep you in compliance with all regulations and will help you know how to identify invalid certifications.
Food Safety Regulations Update Often
Food safety should be a top priority when running a restaurant. If you take food safety seriously, that value trickles down to your staff and keeps your customers safe. Melissa states, “Consumers need to trust that the food they are eating is safe. Otherwise, they won’t dine out, which would be a catastrophe for the entire food industry.”
Practicing food safety goes beyond having your employees take a food safety certification test. Most certifications last for around three years, but regulations can change in that period of time. It’s important to stay up to date on what’s required in your area, inform your employees of any changes and make sure your establishment successfully adopts those changes.
You never know when a health inspector is going to show up. Taking the necessary steps to ensure you and your staff follow the food safety regulations of your area is key to keeping your facilities clean and your guests safe from food-borne illnesses by following the law.