Health inspections, an inspectors’ perspective

I will never forget my very first restaurant inspection after I graduated from the Environmental Health program. I was this little nervous man geared up and ready to save the world from foodborne illness. Upon strolling into my first restaurant, it turned out that the operators were more nervous than I was. I kind of felt like my hero Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness ready to unleash fury on them. This should never be the case. Apparently, the establishment did not have a good relationship with the previous inspector.


There are two different types of inspectors, the black and white regulators who essentially enforce the law without explanation and the one who spends time discussing food related issues and guides operators. An inspection, whether announced or unannounced, is a snapshot in time and is not indicative of what actually goes on. It is far more important that inspectors discuss food safety issues in conjunction with health regulations. Inspectors throw words around such as cross contamination or danger zone, but does the operator even knows what those words actually mean? It is easy for an inspector to enter an establishment and tell the cook, listen you need to use a digital thermometer to verify that your burger is properly cooked. In some jurisdictions, an offence notice will accompany that statement. Sure the cook can probe the burger when the inspector is around, but do they know what temperature they should be aiming for? It is important to work with food operators and discuss food safety issues to compel them rather than scare them.