Food safety is prevention of food borne illnesses when handling, preparating and storing food. In today??™s world with all the new pathogens and worldwide issues for food security, it??™s important that food inspectors use essential inspection techniques to ensure that the public health is not at risk. Inspectors must first be trained to follow the techniques, such as knowing what to ask for when starting and inspection/observation, what to look for during walkthrough observations and how to document and support all inspectional findings. ???When health inspectors go to inspect local food stores and restaurants their inspection technique are observation/questioning, inspection and record??? . Other techniques that can be used are top-down technique and Risk -based method. When the inspectors are fully trained and have inspected an establishment, the establishment and employees should be risk free for the public??™s health.
Health inspectors should always inspect an establishment during business hours at reasonable times, and give the person in charge a notice of the purpose and intent to conduct the inspection; this may be a verbal or a written notice at the time of inspection . The observation/ questioning, inspection and documentation technique is most commonly used by the inspectorates here in The Bahamas. The observation/ questioning is when the inspector observes the floors, wall, equipment, odors, sight of rodents, garbage and sewage disposal, employees attire, and current health certificate. The inspector asks some questions to the manager, regarding the last time was the floors and wall were cleaned, what is used to prevent/decrease the rodent problems if any, how often is the garbage and sewage collected. The equipment, fixtures, products??¦ and so on are then inspected and documented. The wall should be tiled up to five (5) feet and free of grease and dirt/debris, employees should be fully clothed if they work in the deli section of the food store their heads should be covered with a hair net, light and ventilation should be adequate enough for the establishment, the inspector then documents his/her findings if the establishment is in breach of the regulations or if they have followed the regulations, the would pass they inspection. If they are in breach of the regulations they would be given a period of time to correct what needs to be corrected. The usual time given is normally fourteen (14) days (two (2) weeks) and then another inspection would be done at that time .
The top-down method is another type of technique that the inspectorate use when inspecting food stores. The top-down technique is the evaluation of whether the establishment has addressed the basic requirements needed, and have the necessary documents. Then an analysis of the establishment takes place. The inspector analysis??™s and documents the violations of the following:
??? food protection and temperature
??? employee hygiene
??? water and sewage services
??? toilet and hand washing facilities
??? waste disposal
??? pest control
??? cleaning and sanitizing of food equipment and utensils (Deli)
??? maintenance of floors, walls, and ceilings
??? sufficient lighting and ventilation
??? proper storage and display of toxic materials
If this is not the first time the establishment is being inspected a copy of its documented past inspections should be present with the inspector. This will enable the inspector to know if the establishment constantly breaches regulations. A written report should be given to the establishment??™s operator and should be discussed and explained fully. The written report includes a notice of identified violations that needs to be corrected and alternatives for correction may be suggested and advised.
The Risk-based technique allows the inspector to evaluate how much control the establishment has on food borne illness risk factors. It also verifies that the Food Code is being followed and that “control measures” are being used to prevent, eliminate, or reduce food safety hazards. Once the inspection is being carried out the operator of the establishment must present a food safety management system to the inspector. At this time the inspector then asks the necessary questions that need to be answered. These inspections are conducted at unpredictable times but not within the establishments peek hours, a written or verbal notice of the purpose of the inspection is then given to the establishment??™s current operator. A time limit is normally given to the inspector which he/she should manage properly. Managing the given time is very important for the inspector to do. All conversations, viewing of previous records (if this is not a new establishment), and walk through should be completed when the inspection is just beginning this gives the inspector more time to fully inspect the establishment.
Questions asked to the current operator should take no longer than five (5) minutes in the beginning of the inspection it should be kept as professional as possible. Things about food safety, employees, practices and procedures related to the prevention of food borne illnesses and when products are being received where they are being held and or maybe being kept cool and at what temperatures. The inspection form should be fill out while the inspection is being carried out. It should be clear concise, correct, and fairly present the fulfillment of the regulations while the inspection was being carried out. For each requirement that the establishment and its employees must follow they are scored to see how well food safety is being followed. The scoring provides an indication of how well an establishment is complying with the regulations and if they have reached the accepted level for passing an inspection. The scoring allows an inspector to determine those establishments which require follow-up inspections or other forms of regulatory sanctions when they fall too far from the accepted levels. Within the follow up inspection the violations from the initial inspection should be corrected. If the score for a requirement is too low then the establishment has breach the regulation and may receive a penalty. This penalty can be known as a hazard and may prevent the establishment from receiving a food establishment permit.
Ken Givens. Commissioner. http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/regulatory/foodstores.html. ???Retail Food Store Inspections.???
Ms. Green. Health Inspector. Environmental Sanitation and Consumer Division.
Food and Drug Administration. 2001 Food Code. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Food and Drug Administration. Food Safety 2009. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Health regulations. Ministry of Environmental health regulation.