How To Avoid Stiff Penalties Running A Food Service Business In Texas

how to avoid food service business inspection penalties

Did you know that health code infractions dissuade 70% of guests from picking a restaurant? While public health rules are crucial in keeping consumers safe from foodborne diseases, the outcomes of culinary health inspections may decide a company's fate. 

Customers are more worried than ever before about restaurant sanitation and hygiene procedures. Eating meals prepared by others and dining out can be dangerous activities in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak. Restaurants must pay significantly greater regard to health code requirements, particularly new COVID-related procedures, to increase customer trust in dining out. 

The primary line is that eateries must scrupulously adhere to health regulations. But how can you be confident that your restaurant is adhering to the complicated and lengthy health code regulations? 

You can keep your workers and guests safe by implementing the proper food safety procedures and systems. Plus, you won't have to worry about it every occasion your local health officer walks in. Below is a list of the most prevalent (and some less typical) health code breaches and how to avoid them in your restaurant. 

What Can I Anticipate From A Food Health Inspection? 

An inspector will visit your restaurant throughout a health code inspection to search for health code infractions. Inspectors publicize their visits in some locales, while their entrance surprises others. 

Because you never predict when an inspector will arrive, you must ensure that your restaurant always adheres to the health code. Learn what the inspector will be looking for by becoming acquainted with your local restaurant health inspection forms. 

Allow the inspector to complete access to the eatery when they arrive. Try not to conceal anything, as this may raise suspicion and, in specific locations, may result in a substantial punishment. 

The health inspector will give you a grade and a report at the end of the inspection. You will be able to correct certain infractions right away. The inspector will return for a follow-up inspection for more severe offenses to check that the issues have been updated. 

All states require sanctions or penalties for restaurant health code offenses. It is among the most important things to avoid. Fines may cost you money in Texas, which can be as high as USD 1,000 for each infraction. 

How To Avoid Seven Major Restaurant Health Code Infringement 

1. Improper Service Ware Handling And Storage 

Your employees must manage and store plates, silverware, glasses, and straws to prevent germs and other hazardous substances from spreading from their hands to your customers' food. The rims should only handle Serviceware by the BOH and FOH teams. You must always store glasses and plates upside down to avoid potentially hazardous bacteria or debris from gathering on the surfaces. 

2. Inadequate Staff Hygiene 

Employees must maintain solid personal hygiene standards. Wearing caps or hair nets, thoroughly washing hands, avoiding going to work while unwell, keeping outfits clean, and not handling unclean mobile phones while handling food are all examples. 

Training and implementing these recommended practices on your employees is the most significant way to prevent this health code infraction when the inspector arrives unexpectedly. 

3. Cross-Contamination 

Using utensils, hands, and other surfaces that have come into contact with raw food and handles, cooked meals, or other forms of meat is an excellent method to transmit salmonella and E. coli resulting in a health code violation. 

Wash your utensils, hands, and surfaces before and after preparing cooked and uncooked meats and seafood to avoid cross-contamination. To minimize misunderstanding, use separate, color-coded chopping boards and cutlery for each item. 

4. Inadequate Or Incorrect Usage Of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) 

Ensure that all back-of-house (BOH) and front-of-house (FOH) staff wear and correctly wear PPE, such as face masks, when on-premise. Masks must cover the chin and the nose simultaneously, with no crevices or vents. Avoid this infraction by giving PPE to your employees and instructing them on how to use it properly. 

5. Inadequate Ventilation 

A health code inspector may require your restaurant to provide enough ventilation in areas where on-premise eating is permitted. This implies that tents that block air from circulating cannot be used for patio eating. Indoor eating requires regular maintenance of your restaurant's HVAC system and keeping doors and windows open whenever feasible. 

6. Expired Food Storage 

If foods have exceeded their expiry dates or appear to be spoiling, you must discard them. If a health inspector discovers expired dairy in your refrigerator, they will have difficulty believing you did not intend to give it to consumers. Make it someone's job to periodically examine inventories and dispose of dubious goods. 

7. Incorrect Meal Temperature 

Keeping and serving meals at the incorrect temperature for an extended period violates the health code. Avoid a fine by setting rules to ensure food isn't left out for longer than necessary and learning how long perishable items may be kept unrefrigerated. You should store warm things at room temperature for more than one hour and not keep chilly items for more than two hours. 

Where Does A Texas Food Manager Certificate Fit Into All Of These? 

You can practically avoid the above violations if you have a Food Manager in your restaurant. Pursuant to Texas Administrative Code Rule 229.176, a food service manager has proved that they have the information, skills, and abilities needed to safeguard the public from foodborne disease by passing a certified food management examination and being certified. 

What Are The Prerequisites For Becoming A Food Manager In Texas? 

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) discontinued conducting the Certified Food Manager (CFM) test in January 2010. The DSHS now approves outside providers through whom you can obtain your CFM. 

You can obtain a Texas Food Manager Certification through one of two programs: a DSHS- approved test or an ANSI-CFP exam. 

If you pick a Texas DSHS-approved food management test, you may complete the exam online at the most convenient time for your calendar. However, your certification is only valid in Texas. It is an excellent alternative if you do not intend to relocate out of state. You can take online classes before you take an exam, so your chances of getting the certification are much higher. 

How Can Texas Food Managers Improve Food Safety? 

Food managers may significantly influence health and safety since they have power over an establishment's food operations, especially when avoiding foodborne diseases. 

Based on the Center for Science in the Public Interest statistics research, there were 157 foodborne disease outbreaks in Texas between 2003 and 2012. And the two most prevalent diseases discovered were Salmonella and Norovirus, both of which are avoidable with proper food safety standards in place in 2022 and 2023. 

As a food manager, you can verify that your employees are adequately trained in food handling, that you have created the necessary HACCP processes, and that your certifications are up to date.

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