Common Health Code Violations

Avoid these common violations with a little bit of extra effort and some purposeful training time for your staff.

  1. Personal Hygiene
    How clean are your employees? Are they wearing gloves and hairnets? Do they have their cell phones nearby (they shouldn’t because they are germ-filled!)? Teach your employees how to wash their hands. Show them these scientific reasons for 20 second handwashing from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scrub up to the elbows and under the fingernails. In addition, your cooks should always wear clean uniforms daily.
  2. Food Storage
    Cross contamination is your enemy. If your food storage isn’t controlled well, you will violate the health code. This happens most commonly when juices from one food item drip on another. For example, if beef drips on chicken, you’ll need to toss both. Store like items together, but if you’re storing vertically in a walk-in, always put veggies on the top, followed by cooked veggies, cooked meats, cooked seafood, raw seafood, raw beef, raw pork, and then raw chicken.
  3. Cross Contamination
    This can happen in more areas than food storage. For example, if your chef throws three burgers on the grill and then goes over to cut lettuce without washing his hands, you are in violation. Always use different cutting boards for raw meat and veggies and have hand-wash stations available. Follow the FDA’s guidance: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
  4. Time and Temperature
    Know what foods are safe at room temperature and what foods should be refrigerated. For example, mayonnaise should be refrigerated. But, do you know how long it can last there? Always keep cold foods below 40 degrees and hot foods above 140 degrees. All foods need to be refrigerated after a certain amount of time out on a counter.
  5. Storage and Use of Chemicals
    What are you using to clean your kitchen surfaces? Check this list of approved sanitizers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Are your staff reusing cloths? Are they trained on your particular cleaning chemicals? Where are they being stored? Your health inspector has very specific rules on these. Make sure your team knows how to sanitize a surface the right way and then store the chemicals (hint: not near food).
  6. Storage of Plates, Glasses, and Silverware
    Do not store these items near cooking nor food preparation areas. In addition, all plates and glasses must be stored upside down. Silverware must be stored covered. Instruct your staff to only store the handles, rims, and stems. They should never touch a utensil where a diner would.
  7. NEW: Wear Gloves and Face Masks
    The entire world learned in 2020 that respiratory droplets are a primary cause of disease transmission. Viruses are tiny, simple proteins that can “live” (i.e. retain their protein structure) for several days on many kinds of surfaces. Even asymptomatic workers who appear to be disease-free can infect others with a variety of diseases, including the common cold or flu. Innocently exhaling can send respiratory droplets onto food and various surfaces which in turn might infect your customers. Better to be safe, learn the lessons from the global pandemic, and permanently upgrade your safety practices. Provide complimentary gloves and face masks for all of your workers.

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