Run, it’s the health inspector

The last thing I want to do is shut a restaurant down during the Christmas season but when one encounters multiple critical food violations, my hands are tied. An immediate closure was issued on a local restaurant due to improper food holding temperatures, inadequate dishwashing as pots/pans were merely rinsed with water, potential cross contamination issues in the cooler, and the list continues. It is important to note that there was a manger on duty that had successfully completed the food handlers’ course and would therefore in theory be aware of these critical issues. At any rate, I rolled up my sleeves, threw on my hair net and proceeded to physically show the foodservice staff how to properly wash pots/pans via the 3 compartment sink method. Also went over ice baths to rapidly cool foods, preparing sanitizer solutions, and how to use a digital tip sensitive thermometer, supplied by me of course because they didn’t have one. After training on-site, it was up to the staff to show me what they have learned without sitting down and writing an exam, which I feel is pointless.

            A number of Health Departments are consistently struggling with staffing issues resulting in less than par health inspections. I would rather spend the time and perform a quality health inspection by incorporating on-site training rather than being concerned with the quantity of restaurants inspected. 

The cursed 3 compartment sink method

I have finally decided to give my body a break and cut down on the amount of caffeine I consume daily. The problem is that I am not a morning kinda’ guy and when restaurant operators decide to tell me just how much they like me when I visit, I look like Christopher Walken ready to snap. This morning I decided to visit a local mom and pop restaurant to perform a routine inspection. These smaller type of establishments typically use the 3 compartment sink method for dishwashing as commercial dishwashers are not required. I feel that staff are not compelled to wash dishes using this method which includes washing with soap and water, rinsing, sanitizing (i.e. 50 ppm chlorine), and as a final step air drying, especially when the boss isn’t kicking around.  A commercial dishwasher equipped with an approved sanitation cycle would be more appropriate. So when I asked the owner how the dishes are washed, he cursed, then gave me the wrong answer.

 There seems to be a tendency for operators to mix soap with chlorine in the sanitizing step of the method, that is, in the third sink prior to air drying. In doing so, the sanitizer is not operating at its full potential. Soap is alkaline in nature as it uses sodium and potassium hydroxides to make surfactants. Bleach (chlorine) operates optimally at lower pH’s therefore added soap will decrease the efficacy of the bleach and should not be used.