Inspections for food safety generally focus on the evaluation of your food business to check the compliance with the food safety standards in your work environment and how effective the food safety management system is.
These inspections mostly focus on the facility design, the hygiene practices and employee behaviour, food handling, pest management, and the food safety management system in place.
Once you have a digital food safety management system in place, you can organize all the documentation and meet the requirements for accountability while also being compliant with the requirements of food safety.
What Do Food Inspections Do, and Why Do the Inspectors Visit?
These inspections are called by different names, but all of them serve the same purpose. The purpose is to ensure that the food business is compliant with the food safety laws in place in order to protect the health of the end consumer.
The inspectors from your local regulatory body can enter your premises during business hours any day of the working week to carry out inspections. They can come for routine or surprise inspections to investigate the compliance with the food safety laws and low ratings of the business. They could also visit because it is possible that customers have complained about the business or if there is certification validity due.
What Should My Business Focus on to Pass Inspections?
If you have a business related to the food industry, you should always be ready for inspections by food safety agencies. It is important to make sure that there are no traces of hazardous foods present in your work environment. You should be committed to following all the safety laws to their maximum potential.
It is also critical for the staff to be aware of all the safety protocols, as these will help prevent foodborne illnesses. These food safety protocols will also ensure the safety of the food by following the highest standards, and also help the business grow through excellent customer ratings and increased consumer acceptance as well.
What Will Happen If My Food Business Will Fail the Food Inspections?
After the food inspection has been carried out, the business will receive a food inspector report listing, which will include all of the negative and positive aspects that were identified during your inspection.
Your violations will be explained to you in the report, and you will be given a time frame to complete the requirements by improvement.
You will also be praised for meeting the requirements that you have successfully implemented. If you receive a violation, there is no need to panic unless the violation was a critical violation. Instead of panicking, find the solution for the shortcomings that were identified in the report.
You might not even receive a hefty fine if the gravity of the violation is light. However, violations are put on record and there will be a follow-up business inspection. When the timeframe to address the violation is issued, use that time to ask questions to your staff about food safety, brief them about it and also test their knowledge.
If the food violation is serious, your business will face a fine. You will be ordered to conduct food recalls and might even need to close down the business until you are able to fix the issue. Some violations may include:
- Sick working staff on the premises.
- Incomplete documentation for the food and processes.
- Structural and maintenance problems of the building.
- The staff not following the employee health standards.
- Improper food storage for cold or hot food.
- The detection of unwanted chemicals in the food.
- Cross-contamination of the food.
- Serving of inadequately cooked food, especially undercooked food.
- Problems with the maintenance of temperature control.
- Noncompliance with the pest control standards.
- Improper food waste management by the business.
- Food poisoning can be a result of contaminated foods and alleged food poisoning.
- The damaged food packaging and improper labelling.
Food safety issues and even non-critical violations are almost always made public, this means that your future and current clients will become aware of the reported food safety concerns.
If these issues are not fixed, it is possible that the food business could end up becoming permanently closed. There is no need to become overly worried about the food inspections if you follow all the standards.
Inspections can happen anytime, but if you have an approach that makes food safety an important principle, you will always be well-prepared. To be readily prepared, make use of digital food safety management systems to make the inspection easier.
Read More: Key Components of Food Safety Compliance
What Do Food Inspectors Look for When They Are Performing Food Inspections?
The food and health inspectors will generally inspect several aspects of your food business for health inspections. They are not searching to find something to charge you upon because they can, and nor are they trying to find reasons to close down your business.
Rather, they are there to make sure that the food production and handling are safe for public consumption to reduce the risks associated with foodborne diseases. These inspections are standard procedures to be followed and are integral parts of surveillance programs for foodborne diseases, which are established by the food regulatory and safety agencies to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses by addressing all of the safety concerns.
There are key areas of concern about the safety of food that receives increased attention during the inspection procedure. Being informed about these areas makes you prepared at all times to increase the chances of passing the inspection.
Subsequently, it means that the food preparations and handling procedures all fall in line with food safety requirements. To make sure that your business is prepared to pass the food inspection areas, make sure to focus on these mentioned areas:
- The design of your premises and the working conditions. These involve the design of your facility. The construction must be solid, the areas for food preparation must be clean, proper drainage systems must be in place, the layout must support good hygiene practices and employees need to follow food safety protocols.
- The type of foods that are being prepared. High-risk foods are those that have allergens or can become easily spoilt. These foods gain extra scrutiny from the inspectors as they require more specialized safety standards for the food items to be safe from foodborne disease outbreaks. The food safety inspectors are very strict when it comes to the poor handling of the food, which can lead to the production of unsafe foods that can cause public outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.
- The employee behaviour and hygiene. Food inspectors are also focused on checking how the working employees present their food safety practices and themselves while they work. The inspectors look for the absence of jewellery, no unkempt hair, no long nails, how the employees wash their hands, their proper and clean uniform, and the overall discipline in the food service areas and the food preparation areas.
- The labelling of the food. The inspectors will also check for labels on the food that will reflect the validity of the food products and their description to include precautions such as allergen labelling. Adequate food labelling is needed to make sure that the raw materials and the finished products on the premises are all wholesome and safe for public consumption.
- Practices of food handling. This area will include the correct control of temperature while food is being frozen, displayed, cooked, and cooled. Additional safety parameters for temperatures will include cooking temperatures, cooling down, and reheating to be documented as proof to represent that all of the food processing operations are according to food safety laws.
- The maintenance of equipment. The maintenance of equipment will not only ensure that the appliances are clean, the details for their maintenance and calibration, and the cleanliness of oven and fridge door handles are all maintained. The inspectors look beyond these aspects, which show clean equipment. They also look for sharp edges, broken sockets, and faulty appliances. Additionally, they also make sure that there are safety precautions for sharp equipment such as grinding machines, meat cutters, and sets of knives.
- The cleaning techniques and their schedules. Inspectors look for systems of cleaning, such as the use of equipment that is colour-coded to enable a more effective cleaning routine. These also include the practices followed and the cleaning materials used. They also look for directives in place to guide employees on how to use these sanitizing and cleaning materials.
- Food safety management systems. This is the most critical part of food safety inspections. The inspectors look for how efficient and effective the food safety management system is. This will include how the business records its basic food safety practices, what protocols are in place to keep the food safe, and how the food is monitored. Food inspectors want to see the HACCP plans alongside the documentation systems for the food safety management system, which also includes the training procedures of the staff and the food safety certifications. These help ensure that the business is following all of the safety principles effectively.
- The control of pests. Since the pests harbour harmful bacteria and diseases which can severely contaminate the food products, the food inspectors look for signs of pest control to prevent foodborne illnesses. The inspectors can also test the staff’s knowledge on how to report and identify pest infestations. They could even ask the employees basic questions about pest management, such as the common pests present and how to deal with them. The safety offices are looking for signs of infestations.
The arrival of food inspectors should not be a reason for worry, instead, it should be embraced. Since you know what these inspectors are precisely looking for, your staff can be trained accordingly to be more mindful of their work.
If you want to satisfy the food safety inspectors, be sure that your business commits to all of the food safety standards and that these are followed regardless of inspection routines. This will guarantee that the food services are safe for the consumers.
What Are The Documents that a Food Business Will Need to Show to the Food Safety Inspectors?
Before there is an on-site inspection, food safety inspectors can request from you a copy of your FSMS documentation, which will also include the HACCP plan for the food producers. These forms will serve as proof of the food safety approach that is being followed. The added assessments of the on-site food safety inspections may include these common but critical documents:
- The food safety manuals: This manual will include details of how the equipment is operated in the food processing, and the sanitation and cleaning practices. These manuals are generally provided to the new food workers so that they become acquainted with the processes of the company.
- Safety checklists: These safety checklists will include the operations of the food business. These will help the team members to categorize tasks based on their level of urgency. Checklists are an important part of the food safety management system and also serve as proof of the business’s compliance with the food safety regulations and requirements.
- Monitoring forms: These forms are records that are used to maintain compliance with food safety. These include cleaning, storage, delivery, sanitation, operational monitoring, and schedules in place for safe and documented operations.
- The HACCP plan: The hazard analysis and critical control points plan is also a part of the documentation for safety agencies such as the food and drug administration authority. The plan is a risk-based model for food safety management systems that need to be established for all the food companies. The plan must be able to control the safety hazards and identify them. They also include corrective actions, preventive actions, and monitoring procedures.
- The licences and work permits: All of the government agencies will require work permits and licenses. These include the food handler cards for employees, public health licenses, and the annual food permit. In certain countries, permits are also needed in order to be granted operational rights.
- The certifications: The company certifications serve as proof of the business competency and having standardized technical knowledge about food safety. Certifications may include food safety training certifications and food protection managers. Working standards such as ISO standards can be acquired to show a certified workflow.
One can note how much extensive documentation will be needed, the question is that if a business is more focused on documentation how is it supposed to work. Paper stacks are difficult to manage, they can be lost, manipulated, or even damaged.
So it is best to organize, compile and update these documents by using a digital food safety management system Digital FSMS will enable the business to have the records in a centralized place while also ensuring that there are no gaps in the documentation. You can buy Folio3 Agtech solutions to get started with the digital food safety management system.
How Can Folio3 Digital Food Safety Management System Prepare You For Your Next Inspection?
If you want the business to get a perfect score evaluation from the food safety inspectors, you will have to consistently maintain compliance with the food regulations and codes. The best way to manage this alongside the business is to make use of digital food safety management software offered by our company.
Our Agtech solutions for digital FSMS will create a system for your business as soon as possible. After you answer some basic questions about your food business, you will get a set of checklists and monitoring forms that can even be tailored as per your business operations. Some benefits that you will get by using Folio3 digital food safety management software are:
- Quick solution delivery to prepare for your next inspection. If you come across shortcomings in the business and have a timeframe to make the system better, Folio3 can help you provide solutions before the inspection with successful implementation so that you can make your business compliant with food safety standards before the inspection.
- You can also manage your certification schedules using our digital food safety management software by storing these in databases. Automatic updates will be sent when the deadlines for reevaluations are approaching.
- Our software will help ensure task completion. All the tasks will be sent as notifications to the employees for the food safety operations each day.
- The software is compatible with electronic devices such as mobile phones, personal computers, and tablets. All of the features are readily available and can ensure streamlined operations.
- The software solution will be created by our domain experts in food safety. Their experience in the food industry will be utilized, so they can make sure that the software can automatically help you work with the best standards to pass inspections.
- Our digital monitoring checklists and forms can be filled by your employees once they are carrying out tasks essential to food safety. You will have guidelines on what to do and how with all of the data entries being recorded for documentation in databases.
- The use of our real-time dashboard will help you review the progress. You can even choose to download the daily report, print it, and even back it up for documentation for food safety evaluations to maintain a healthy record.
- Our software solution for food safety management systems will even facilitate the training of your food workers. This feature can be achieved by the specific assignment of tasks for specific employees. This divides the workload and all of the employees are aware of their duties.
It is a good time for food businesses to opt for food safety management systems as people are growing more concerned about what they consume, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19. With Folio3, you can switch from a conventional food safety management system that runs on paper to a completely digitized solution that is tailored to your business needs for a modern food safety system. With our automatically updated FSMS, you will not have to worry about food safety inspections by the authorities. You will always be ready at every time.