Note that if you have failed a health inspection, your operating costs will more or less increase because of compulsory repairs, new equipment, and other improvements required by the health department. If you fail to correct all the violations (especially critical violations) found by the health inspector, it could also lead to stiff fines or they could revoke your license and close your restaurant permanently.

However, depending on where your restaurant is located, and the severity of the violations, they could give you a 5 – day re-inspection notice (for critical violations that couldn’t be corrected during the inspection) or a 45 – day correction notice (for non – critical violations).

What is a Restaurant Health Inspection?

A restaurant health inspection is an examination of your restaurant, staff and food products for potentially hazardous or unsafe materials. This can be during storage, production, processing or even packaging. A health inspector will pay meticulous attention to how you store, thaw and cook food. He or she will also note the cleanliness of your kitchen, storage areas and freezers.

What to Do When You Fail a Health Inspection?

The first thing you must do after failing a health inspection is to correct all those violations. This may include not only cleaning and repairing, but also making sure it won’t happen again by talking to your employees and have them take responsibility for complying with health code regulations.

After correcting the violations, it’s time to do your own self – inspection. This is very crucial because it allows you to guarantee that the critical (and non – critical) violations that made you fail the health inspection are fully corrected. It will also help you identify possible health code violations you weren’t aware of.

Also note that it will help ensure your restaurant is in complete compliance with current regulations and guidelines – all this before the health inspector shows up again for your scheduled (or surprise) re-inspection. Keep in mind that, during the inspection, the health inspector will ask several questions, and your food manager has to answer appropriately.

If your certified food manager fumbles while answering, or does not know the answer, that is a primary violation to the health code, and chances are that you will fail the health inspection again. If you have failed a health inspection before, the health inspector will ask the same questions during the re-inspection, so your food manager should already have the right answers.

The Most Common Reasons Restaurants Fail Health Inspections

In the U.S. there are several regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and state and local health departments that create and enforce food codes that foodservice establishments must follow. However, there are a few mistakes and health code violations that many restaurants make. Keep an eye out for these mistakes to keep your health inspection score high:

  1. Employee Hygiene

Indeed this can be difficult to track sometimes, but employee hygiene can have a visible effect on not only the quality of your food, but whether your restaurant passes its health inspection or not. No doubt, working in a restaurant can be messy, but so can daily life.

Your employees bring dirt, debris, and germs into work with them from their homes. That is why it’s pertinent to always make sure that they maintain high levels of personal hygiene while they’re at work. For instance, your cooks should always be in clean clothing every time.

In an ideal situation, they’ll have a set of clothing that is stored at the restaurant that they can change into when they start their shift. This limits the number of outside contaminants they bring in with them. In addition, encouraging your employees to wash their hands thoroughly is another way to limit the spread of disease and germs in your workspace.

Have it in mind that a quick splash of water and soap is sometimes not enough, so make sure to remind your employees to wash their hands up to their elbows for a full 20 seconds before returning to work. They should get in the habit of washing hands after trips to the bathroom, after breaks, and before switching to food prep related tasks.

  1. Work Surfaces

Aside your head chefs, perhaps the hardest working part of your restaurant is your work surfaces. This involves contact surfaces like cutting boards and grills to non – contact surfaces like storage areas, these surfaces are always being used. With time, these surfaces can accumulate debris and contaminants if they are not cleaned regularly. And this can lead to the accumulation of germs and bacteria, which can be passed on to your patrons.

Therefore, to ensure that your work surfaces stay clean, make sure that all areas that come into contact with food are cleaned and sanitized regularly. In addition, ensure that any cleaning agents are removed from these surfaces after you have finished using them, as these can contaminate the food as well. It’s also pertinent to ensure that surfaces like floors are kept clean.

  1. Pests and Infestations

No one likes the idea of creepy crawlies scrambling around in the kitchen, be it at home, or at a restaurant. However, you need to understand that your restaurant naturally attracts pests like bugs and rodents. It offers the major resources they’re all searching for – food, water, warmth and shelter.

A population of pests is a sure – fire way to fail a health inspection. Pests like bugs, rodents, or other animals, can spread dirt, debris, and even disease across your workspace, which means your food can become contaminated. Nonetheless, keeping your restaurant free of pests is easier said than done. This is because prevention is the best course of action in this case.

You should start by completing a thorough examination of the interior and exterior of your restaurant. Search for cracks in the foundation or walls, gaps around the pipes and fittings that run in and out of the building, and make sure that your screens and windows are fitted soundly in their frames. This helps to keep pests out.

Also take a look at your food management and storage practices. Always inspect every delivery of food before storing it to make sure you’re not letting anything in on accident. Also ensure you don’t store food on the floor and don’t let food sit in open containers on shelves and counters. When there’s a spill, make sure to clean it up right away. Take out the garbage throughout the day. Have it in mind that a clean and well – organized restaurant is a pest – free restaurant.

  1. Equipment Issues

Have it in mind that once your restaurant is free of pests, has clean workspaces, and fresh employees, it’s time to examine your equipment. Note that issues with food preparation and storage equipment plague restaurants of all kinds.

Your equipment, from whisks to meat slicers, are expected to be well – maintained, kept clean, and should be free from damage. Keeping your equipment in tip – top shape not only makes for better food but keeps your employees safer too.

This sort of inspections is quite easy to complete. First, make sure your equipment is NSF compliant. While the cooking materials available in normal commercial spaces might work for you, they aren’t often up to the rigors of restaurant use, meaning they cannot be kept clean appropriately. Also ensure your equipment is being used properly.

It might be challenging to imagine a heat lamp being used for anything other than keeping a dish warm, but you’d be surprised how creative your employees can get. By using equipment properly, it ensures that it’s not being subjected to undue wear-and-tear and keeps them functional longer. Plus, it mitigates the chances of employees getting injured.


Now that you’re aware of the common reasons why restaurants fail their health inspections, you can take the appropriate steps in your own business to ensure it does not happen to you. Some operators approach health inspections with anxiety or frustration, but health inspections are potential learning opportunities with the intention to reduce the spread of food – borne illnesses and ensure the safety of your customers.

There are many steps you can take to prepare your establishment for your restaurant health inspection, such as training employees to avoid health code violations, knowing your local food codes, becoming ServSafe certified, and conducting self – inspections.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Happens During A Restaurant Inspection?

The inspector will make sure that all processed and pre-made ingredients used by the kitchen come from approved sources, namely licensed commercial kitchens, and are stored properly. From there, it’s time to inspect the static areas of the restaurant, things that don’t change much from day to day.

  1. What Are The Consequences Of Failing To Observe Food Safety Policy?

Establishments, employers and employees who are found guilty of failing to observe food safety regulations may face the following consequences: litigation, fines, loss of business.

  1. What Do Health Inspectors Look For In A Restaurant?

The health inspector will meticulously check cooking, holding and storage temperatures of all meat, poultry, seafood and ready made food products to assure they are at safe temperatures. They will also ask to see records to assure you are doing the same.

  1. Who Do You Call When A Restaurant Is Dirty?

If you suspect that a food is contaminated or has made you or someone that you know sick, follow these guidelines to report it. Phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or report the complaint online. For details, see Problems with Food Products (USDA).

  1. What Happens If The Food Safety Act Is Broken?

The ramifications for your business (or one of its employees) if there is a breach of food safety duties include: Investigation by the relevant regulators using criminal powers, to include powers of arrest, including criminal conviction.

For example, UK magistrates’ courts may impose a fine of up to £5,000 per offence and/or a prison sentence of up to six months. 41. For offences under sections 7 and 14 of the Act, the maximum fine a magistrates’ court may set for each offence is £20,000.

  1. What Are 5 Common Food Safety Violations?

The Five Most Common Violations include: inadequate pest control, unintended contamination, lack of hand washing, poor sanitization, and improper temperature.

  1. What Is The Most Common Health Violation In Restaurants?
  • Time and Temperature.
  • Food Storage.
  • Cross-Contamination.
  • Personal Hygiene.
  • Chemical Usage and Storage.
  1. What Is Food Inspection Process?

Food Safety Inspections are one of many procedures put in place by the government to ensure that food is clean and safe for consumers. Inspections are used to ensure that food products are not contaminated in any way. Food products such as raw meat can be dangerous if not prepared properly.

  1. What Is A Critical Violation In Food Safety?

Critical violations are violations that pose a high risk to food safety and would likely cause foodborne illness, like improper handwashing or holding of food.

  1. How Is Food Safety Tested?

Taking the temperature at specified points to ensure it reaches the desired temperature, running the product through an x-ray or other machine to check for physical hazards, or taking microbial swabs to ensure the equipment is within the limits acceptable.

  1. What Is The Best Way To Prepare For An Inspection In A Restaurant?
  • Provide open access to areas that need to be checked.
  • Clear the perimeter.
  • Check the roof.
  • Keep a clean house.
  • Replace any bulbs that are out.
  • Make sure your toilets are functioning properly.
  • Put in a fresh furnace return filter.
  • Turn all pilot lights on
  1. Do Health Codes Cover Food Service Complaints?

The health codes cover all issues, except: Worker’s health & safety.

  1. What Can An Enforcement Officer Do?

An enforcement officer inspects any stage of the food production, manufacturing, distribution and retail process; enter premises, seize and detain foods; take samples of food for testing to ensure compliance with food legislation; take action against a food business operator who does not comply with food regulations.

  1. How Much Does A Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Inspector Make?

The average salary for a Food Inspector is $68,432 per year in Canada.

  1. What Are 5 Food Safety Rules?

The core messages of the Five Keys to Safer Food are: (1) keep clean; (2) separate raw and cooked; (3) cook thoroughly; (4) keep food at safe temperatures; and (5) use safe water and raw materials.

  1. What Two Body Parts Must Be Cleaned Before Food Preparation?

Fingers, fingertips, and between fingers. And hands & arms.

  1. How Often Does The EHO Visit A Food Business?

If your business is perceived as high risk, officers will inspect it every 6 months. If it is low risk, EHO officers may visit every 5 years.

  1. What Should You Clean Before Preparing Food?

Before you start preparing food, it’s important worktops, kitchen utensils and chopping boards are clean. If they’ve been touched by raw meat, poultry, eggs or vegetables you’ll need to wash them thoroughly. You should change dish cloths and tea towels regularly to avoid any bacteria growing on the material.

  1. How Has NASA Improved Food Safety?

NASA and Pillsbury developed a system that was based on preventing problems from occurring in the first place. The Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) system requires the identification of stages during the manufacturing process that could result in a food safety hazard.

  1. Can Health Inspectors Talk To Employees?

Yes, inspectors have the right of entry to your premises as well as the right to talk to employees and safety representatives, and exercise powers to help them fulfil their role. If an HSE inspector visits your premises and you want to confirm their identity, they all carry identification and you can ask to see this.

  1. How Important Is Kitchen Sanitation At Home?

Washing your kitchen surfaces and hands is an important step to prevent food poisoning. Bacteria are everywhere – including your kitchen where food is stored, prepared and eaten. Bacteria that cause illnesses can be on your food, kitchen utensils, counters, appliances, floors, pets and especially your hands.

  1. What Type Of Action Can Inspectors Take?

Inspectors can issue an informal warning, verbally or in writing. issue an improvement notice or prohibition notice, carry out an investigation and make recommendations to the Public Prosecution Service concerning both the company or individuals.

  1. What Is The Biggest Threat To Food Safety?

Of all the microorganisms, bacteria are the greatest threat to food safety. Bacteria are single-celled, living organisms that can grow quickly at favorable temperatures.

  1. What Are The Working Conditions Of A Health Inspector?

Health and regulatory inspectors must be comfortable working in a very strict and regulated environment. They need a sense of authority and need to be comfortable discussing issues regarding health and sanitation with businesses as well as initiating legal action that needs to be taken against them in serious cases.

  1. What Are The 10 Rules For Food Safety Practice?
  • Choose Foods Processed for Safety.
  • Cook Food Thoroughly.
  • Eat Cooked Food Immediately.
  • Store Cooked Foods Carefully.
  • Reheat Cooked Foods Thoroughly.
  • Avoid Contact Between Raw Foods and Cooked Foods.
  • Wash Hands Repeatedly.
  • Keep All Kitchen Surfaces Clean.
  • Protect Foods from Insects, Rodents, and other Animals
  • Use Safe Water
  1. How Do I Become A Health Inspector In Ontario?

Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a recognized degree program, complete a 12-week practicum and successfully pass an examination. There are two voluntary certification programs for Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors available from the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP).

  1. Are Health Inspectors In Demand?

I can’t really say because The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t have employment projections specifically for health inspectors, but occupational health and safety specialists are closely related. Between 2018 and 2028, employment is supposed to increase by 6% for specialists.

  1. Can Health Inspectors Take Photos?

Sure, because Health Inspectors have the authority to take certain actions, including: carrying out examinations and investigations, including taking measurements, photographs and samples, taking possession of an article and arranging for it to be dismantled or tested.

  1. What Is The Best Way To Prepare For An Inspection HACCP?
  • Look at your records.
  • Test samples of your products.
  • Examine and test your manufacturing equipment.
  • Observe your facilities and processes.
  1. What Is The Purpose Of Restaurant Inspections?

Restaurant inspections reflect how well a retail establishment is adhering to the rules governing food establishments. The rules are written to minimize the possibility of a foodborne illness due to abuse in a food establishment.

  1. Why Is Inspection Important In Food Industry?

Without the preventative measures that come with food inspection at every stage of production, businesses risk damage to their brands by falling short of the quality their customers expect.

  1. When Do Restaurant Health Inspections Occur?

Typically, restaurant health inspections occur, at random, every 6 months, however, a food inspector is also obligated to come visit you if a customer ever complains.

  1. What Can A Manager Expect During A Routine Kitchen Health Inspection?

The health inspector will meticulously check cooking, holding and storage temperatures of all meat, poultry, seafood and ready made food products to assure they are at safe temperatures. They will also ask to see records to assure you are doing the same.

  1. What are the Fundamental Principles of Food Safety and Hygiene?

Some of the fundamental principles for food safety and food hygiene are: Cleaning, Cross-contamination, Chilling and Cooking.

  1. What Types Of Food Establishments Are Inspected?
  • Food stands.
  • Delis and meat markets.
  • Public and private school cafeterias.
  • Mobile food units and push carts.
  • Elderly nutrition sites and institutional kitchens.
  • Limited food service establishments.
  • Temporary food service establishments.
  1. How Often Do NYC Restaurants Get Inspected?

Every restaurant in New York City is scheduled for an unannounced inspection at least once a year. During the inspection, an inspector checks for compliance with city and state food safety regulations and marks points for any condition that violates these rules.

  1. How Do I Report A Restaurant To The Health Department In Canada?

You can report concerns about restaurant food to your local public health department. If you suspect that your health has been compromised because of food, contact your doctor or local public health center, who will follow up with the appropriate treatment.

  1. What Is A Good Restaurant Score?

A perfect score for a restaurant is 100, but inspectors deduct points for major health risks, minor health risks and violations of good retail practices. A business scoring 90-100 points gets an “A” grade, 80-89 points a “B” grade, and 70-79 points a “C” grade.

  1. What Is Food Inspection Process?

Independent food inspection is an examination of food in production as a form of quality control. Through this process, the standards of the product are assessed at multiple points in the production cycle to ensure conformity at every step.

  1. How Do You Get A 5 Star Health Rating?
  • Ensure You’ve Fixed Previous Issues.
  • Keep Your Records Up To Date.
  • Get Your Staff Trained.
  • Conduct A Regular ‘Deep Clean’
  • Get A Reliable Food Safety Management System.
  1. What Is The Highest Food Rating You Can Get?

5 is top of the scale, this means the hygiene standards are very good and fully comply with the law. 0 is at the bottom of the scale, this means urgent improvement is necessary

  1. What Are The Different Types Of Inspections Made By Health Inspectors?

Routine, follow-up inspection, HACCP, complaint, pre-operational, license renewal, and other inspections that would include training inspections and joint inspections with other agencies such as FDA and USDA.

  1. What Determines A Health Inspection Score?

Points-based systems are usually scored on a 100 point scale. Health inspectors determine your food inspection score by the number and severity of the violations.

  1. What’s The Lowest Score That A Restaurant Can Receive From The Health Department And Continue To Operate?


  1. What Are The Four Types Of Food Safety Contamination Hazard?

The four main types of food safety contamination hazard are chemical, microbial, physical, and allergenic.

  1. Under What Conditions Will A Food Establishment Get Shut Down?

A restaurant will be closed when an “imminent health hazard” is found. Imminent health hazards are conditions in which contamination and spoilage of food is widespread. These conditions include flooding, sewage backup, loss of electricity and loss of running water.

  1. What Are The Responsibilities Of A Certified Food Manager?

He or she makes sure that the food prepared and served is safe to eat. He implements food safety procedures and ensures that guidelines required by the state or local health office are followed.

  1. What Should I Study To Become A Food Inspector?

Bachelor’s degree or equivalent field experience in Applied Food and Environmental Science.

  1. Is Food Inspector A Good Career?

Yes, and as a matter of fact, a career in food inspection is where you can find job advancement potential and sense of ensuring the safety of the community.

  1. What Are The Specific Standards Involving Employee Cleanliness Which Are Checked During A Health Inspection In Texas?
  • Employee Hygiene
  • Employees wear hairnets, and male employees cover facial hair.
  • Eating and smoking are limited to designated areas away from food prep areas.
  • Employees wash their hands regularly using proper hand-washing techniques.
  • Employees wear clean clothes and proper, closed-toed shoes.
  1. What Factors Can Increase The Inspection Frequency?
  • Your quality history with your supplier.
  • The value of your product.
  • The application of your product.
  • The complexity of your product.
  • Your customers’ tolerance for quality issues.
  1. Does A Food Business Have To Display Its Rating?

No, food premises in England do not need to display a food hygiene rating sticker, however they are encouraged to do so.

  1. What Health Score Closes A Restaurant?

A score of 90 or above is an A, in the 80s is a B, and a score in the 70s is a C. If an inspector gives a 69 or below, the restaurant has to close immediately. A restaurant can also be closed for critical violations, such as leaking sewage or no water. Restaurants that score below a 90 can get another shot.

  1. How much is the fine for Food Safety Offences England?

For offences under regulation 19(1) Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 and regulation 17(1) Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006, the maximum sentence magistrates may pass on summary conviction is a £5,000 fine.

  1. Are Food Safety Inspections Random?

Yes, they conduct self-inspections at random, unannounced times. Health inspections can occur at any time, so all your employees must be equally prepared.