After over twenty years of working as an enforcement officer, trainer and auditor I’ve seen a few sights and could tell a few tales from the food businesses I’ve encountered. Here’s my top tips to make sure you make the most of when the ‘inspector calls’:
1. Don’t panic
No one likes to be put on the spot but remember food enforcement officers can enter your business at any reasonable time you are open. Busy lunchtimes are not the best but sometimes it happens. Don’t panic –if you want to get the best out of the visit for both of you. While you mustn’t make up excuses (they will probably see through them anyway) you can explain that you are really busy, have a man down, just had a large delivery or whatever it may be and discuss the best way forward. Ask how they wish to carry out the visit. How long they expect it to take. By talking it over you can get off to a good start.
2. Keep calm and carry on
If you look and act unsure/ hassled, then your staff will too and that’s when silly mistakes happen. Explain to your staff who is visiting your kitchen and that they should carry on as normal. EHO’s need to see food preparation being carried out to help them assess that you have good working practices in place. Don’t stop work – that only makes for long queues and disgruntled customers.
3. Keep your house in order
It’s easier and good practice to keep on top of your records and paperwork each day. Don’t let it build up. For example, get into the routine of recording fridge temperatures twice a day, core cooking temperatures regularly throughout the day. Having everything to hand saves time and shows you take monitoring and record keeping seriously.
4. Show and tell
If you don’t understand what the EHO is asking you don’t be afraid to say so. They are usually more than willing to explain again. Show them around the kitchen from where deliveries are taken in and stored through to preparation areas.
5. Everyone has their part to play
A well organised kitchen is a good and efficient one. Make sure all members of staff know their roles and responsibilities. Staff make be asked about how they produce certain dishes, what critical controls are in place. Make sure everyone has the appropriate training for the level of responsibility. Everyone has their part to play and everyone will be proud of themselves when you all pull off that 5 rating!