When a restaurant gets cited for health code violations, it’s impossible to ignore the negative blow to the reputation of the establishment. Not only are health code violations bad for business though, they could have serious consequences related to foodborne illnesses.

Here are just some of the health code violations that restaurants get caught out for and what can be done to avoid them:

Cross Contamination

This refers to the transfer of bacteria from raw food, unclean utensils or unclean surfaces to ready-to-eat food, clean utensils or clean surfaces.*  

Cross contamination can occur if:

  • Hands are not cleaned regularly and properly
  • Equipment and surfaces are not cleaned between batches (e.g. mixers, knives, cutting boards, benches and display units)
  • Insects or rodents have contact with food
  • Raw products and cooked or ready-to-eat products come into contact with each other
  • Food is stored without lids

Solution: 

Have hand washing stations stocked with effective hand sanitising and disinfecting products readily accessible to staff. Have a cleaning schedule in place to ensure that all equipment, utensils, preparation benches and sinks are cleaned and sanitised correctly between shifts and at the end of the day.

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Pest Infestations

An out of control infestation of rodents, cockroaches, flies and other pests is enough to get a restaurant shut down for obvious reasons – they pose a major threat to food safety. These pests will invade restaurants because they are seen as an attractive a source of food and water, often seeking shelter nearby as they do not like to travel far in their daily foraging for food. 

Solution: 

It is the responsibility of the restaurant to ensure that the necessary mechanisms are in place to proactively prevent pest infestations of any kind by:

  • Routinely inspecting incoming shipments of food and supplies
  • Routinely inspecting the premises for evidence of pests
  • Using methods, if pests are found, such as trapping devices or other means of pest control
  • Eliminating harbourage conditions, which includes:
    • Ensuring that garbage and refuse is properly disposed of 
    • Cleaning garbage bins are cleaned regularly
    • Keep the area around dumpsters or waste areas cleans
    • Ensuring the outside receptacles have lids or covers
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Poorly Maintained Kitchen Canopy

Kitchen canopies and grease traps are a vital part of restaurant kitchens, but if not maintained properly, could lead to a health code violation. Once filters become clogged with grease residue and other effluents, contaminated particulate is free to circulate occupied areas, affecting indoor air quality. What’s more, this build-up can quickly become a serious fire hazard.

Solution:

All types of kitchen canopy and extraction systems should be regularly cleaned. Here’s a guideline of how often to schedule a kitchen canopy cleaning**:

  • Hoods over non-grease appliances – once a year
  • Pizza restaurants and oven hoods – once every 6 months
  • Average restaurants, cafeterias and hotel or hospital kitchens – once every 3 months
  • Hamburger and fast food restaurants, wood-burning or charcoal-burning stoves, restaurants open 24 hours – once a month 

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HACCP and the Restaurant Health Code

The frequency of foodborne illnesses worldwide has made consumers more aware of the implications of unsafe food safety practices. As a restaurant owner, you must be able to reassure your guests that you are running a safe establishment. 

You can do this by following pest control and cleaning practices in line with HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) which uses the method of guiding critical points in food handling to avoid food safety harms.

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* Waverly Council, Cross Contamination Fact Sheet (PDF)

** Piper Fire Protection, How Often Should You Clean Your Hood Exhaust System?