The actual inspection can be broken into two categories -- physical conditions and procedures. A significant part of an inspection is to stand back and just watch the employees as they go about their jobs. Watching for cross-contamination, lack of sanitation and poor personal hygiene practices can reveal significant problems. Most of the obvious part of the inspection involves taking temperatures of potentially hazardous food and making sure that food contact surfaces are clean, sanitary and in good working condition. Food holding temperatures, and the time that it takes to reach a safe temperature, are absolutely critical items when dealing bacteriological causes of foodborne illness. Unfortunately viral agents are not controlled by temperature manipulation and personal hygiene procedures are the only safeguard. The inspection is only a “snapshot” of what happens in the establishment and, by establishing good habits and proper procedures, problems can be minimized if not eliminated.
When an inspection is performed, any violations are recorded and -- if serious -- they are scored. Some items, such as maintaining the temperature of the food within safe limits to prevent bacterial growth, are scored as five points off (demerits) while other violations are scored as four or three demerits. Other violations that are not directly related to food safety may be noted but do not get scored. This is done so that attention is focused on the food safety rather than the appearance of an establishment.
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