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Published on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Could You Pass Inspection Today?

Focus on cleanliness, good hygiene practices to prep your restaurant for an A+

Heading up a restaurant means there is an endless list of things you need to get ready for each and every day. In the hustle and bustle of the daily lunch rush or the late-night crowd, it's easy to push one of the most important items farther and farther down the "to-do" list: Get ready for the next health inspection.

You don't want to be left scrambling to make sure everything is up to code right before an expected visit - which you can't predict anyway. What's easier in the long run is to establish proper workforce habits and make supply changes now so you're confident you'll pass inspection no matter when it happens.

Here are a few things to remember to get your staff and your establishment up to code.

Practice makes perfect.
Surprise "inspections" led by you keep employees on their toes and ensure all bases are covered for the real thing. Get your hands on the inspection sheet that will be used for your health inspection. Quiz your employees on best practices and make sure they have been properly trained in the various aspects of safe food preparation and other safety measures.

Pay attention to overlooked safety hazards.
Restaurant fires are rare, but they do happen. You can decrease your risk by outsourcing dirty linens to a commercial laundry service rather than utilizing dryers on-site that could malfunction or simply not be equipped to handle the continuous load of linens produced by a busy restaurant. Other restaurant hazards include slips and falls, both in the kitchen and on the service floor. Dry, well-maintained anti-slip floor mats help reduce slips and falls. Also, message mats that contain safety, cleanliness or quality-related reminders keep these issues top-of-mind for employees.

Remember the restrooms.
Problems with restroom facilities often fall under the "Noncritical Violations" category, but if left uncorrected they could become "Critical Violations" - the kind that can shut down a business. Your commercial bathroom cleaning supply services should include maintenance of soap dispensers, air fresheners, hand towels and tissues with certified products from organizations such as:
• National Sanitation Foundation - NSF
• Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Points - HACCP
• Environmental Protection Agency - EPA
• Green Seal Certified
• Americans Disability Act Accessible - ADA
Ask your commercial cleaning supply company if their restroom products include automated, touch-free towel dispensers to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Similarly, AutoFoam Skin Care Dispensers with thick, dense foaming cleaners ensure automatic, touch-free soap delivery, which eliminates cross-contamination and encourages use by guests and employees alike.

It can't be too clean.
Uniform and kitchen linens should be kept spotless and germ-free. Be sure your laundering service stocks, mends and replaces professional microfiber towels, bar mops, grill rags and uniforms to help keep foreign objects out of food. The advanced chemical technologies used by commercial services ensure your linens and uniforms are always fresh and hygienically clean. To be sure of such cleanliness, look for a laundry service that has earned its Hygienically Clean Certification through the Textile Rental Services Association.

Don't just focus on the food - focus on the food prep area.
Inspectors will test your establishment's cooking, warming and serving practices to make sure your staff is preparing and serving food at acceptable temperatures. They'll also be looking at the food prep area and the people preparing the food. Dirty, wet floor mats grow and harbor dangerous bacteria. Several linen companies provide anti-microbial floor mats that inhibit the growth of bacteria in high-use areas such as behind prep-lines and bars. These mats have excellent anti-fatigue properties and their wet mat flow-through design aids in draining and cleanliness. But to be effective, mats need to be professionally cleaned on a regular basis; otherwise they contribute to the problem rather than solving it. Scraper mats and walk-off mats at restaurant front doors also help reduce dirt, germs and wet being tracked through.

Work on making these small, yet effective, everyday choices today to ensure your establishment is always ready to pass inspection.
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