It’s that time again! Every caterer gets nervous around the time of their EHO visit. Health Officers have the power to close down your premise, seize food, and recommend your business for prosecution – you have every right to be nervous!
However, it’s important to remember that EH officers are experienced professionals with a deep knowledge of the food industry. They can offer helpful advice on best practices and help you keep customers, and your business, safe. By carefully following compliance procedures and working with your EHO, you can turn a stressful situation into a productive and relaxed business meeting.
Here’re 6 ways you can prepare for your health inspection.
1. Clean your premises outside to in
A health inspector is going to be taking careful note of the cleanliness of your premises from the moment they arrive outside. That means you’ll want to have everything spotless, from your outside doors, windows and walls, to inside cupboards, corners and table bottoms. Clutter can make your premises look dirtier than it is, so make sure everything has its own space.
2. Make sure everything is in good repair
EHO officers look at more than just cleanliness – a broken power socket, faulty appliance or a sharp edge could be a danger to customers. Make sure that all the furnishings and equipment in your premises are in top working condition, or are stored out of the way of the public and employees.
3. Check access to hot water, hand-washing facilities, ventilation and drainage
Facilities that enable good hygiene and acceptable working conditions will also be scrutinised by officers. Access to hot running water is key for hygiene, so make sure that hot taps are fully functional and accessible. Lighting, ventilation and drainage will also be inspected, so make sure light bulbs are working.
2. Put your Food Safety Management documentation in order
Your EHO will ask to see your HACCP compliance documentation almost immediately, so make sure this is accessible, complete, and well-maintained. These documents are critical for your EHO to ensure that food safety protocols are being observed and that you’re monitoring critical control points. Go through your documentation carefully and chase up any gaps with staff.
Your EHO may also wish to observe checks being carried out, as well as see evidence of staff training procedures. Make sure you are following HACCP guidance and food safety training protocols to the letter. If you’re unsure of what needs to be followed, check out the FSA guidance on HACCP here.
5. Check over food storage and preparation areas (including vehicles!)
Your EHO will pay special attention to areas that are used to store or prepare food, as these are critical hygiene areas. Check over these areas with special attention to surfaces and cleanliness. Textured surfaces can create pockets where bacteria proliferates, so be sure that these are easy to clean and disinfect. Officers will be interested in how food is transported to and from your business, so make sure transport is clean and accessible for inspection.
6. Implement a healthy waste disposal strategy
Bins are havens for bacteria, so waste disposal should be carefully considered and managed effectively. Keep waste storage well away from food preparation areas, and see that bins are cleared out and cleaned thoroughly at least once a day. Also, Be sure that your waste disposal areas are not attracting pests – EHO officers will be on alert for signs of infestation.