Navigating County Health Inspections
Each hospitality establishment is governed by their county’s respective County Health Department (CHD) in order to maintain food quality and food safety standards in the state of Florida. As such, food and drink establishments are subject to county health inspections by the County Health Department routinely and for a number of reasons. These standards can be difficult to navigate without help from Florida Restaurant License Consultants. Examples may include:
- scheduled routine inspections : These are performed by a licensed health inspector in order to maintain the health and safety of the public. There can be multiple scheduled routine inspections throughout the year depending on your type of business. The amount of county health inspections that are scheduled depends on a number of factors. Typically, it relies on the risk involved in getting your patrons sick from consuming your food or beverages, and other factors such as the population being served, amount of food being prepared, etc.
- re-inspections : These are scheduled when an establishment is found to be in violation and must correct the issue within a certain time frame. The severity of the violations are measured in tiers. When the violation is considered the highest tier, it could lead to the business being shut down. An inspector will arrive to complete this inspection after the time frame for correction has been met.
- complaint inspections : These are inspections carried out in response to a citizen’s complaint. These inspections are completely unannounced allowing the establishment no-prior notice before the inspector’s arrival. Inspections that fall under this category can include food handling processes, overall sanitation of the business, etc.
Once county health inspections are complete, an establishment can receive one of three scores: satisfactory, unsatisfactory, or incomplete. These scores are the culmination of violations and potential violations witnessed by the inspector. The inspector will then determine whether or not these observations are significant enough a threat to call for a re-inspection.
Opening Your Establishment
Food-service establishments can be governed by typically one of two agencies: County of Environmental Health, and the Division of Hotels and Restaurants. They are distinguished in that County Environmental Health governs prepackaged foods and bars/nightclubs with no food, and the Division of Hotels and Restaurants governs prepared food in bars/restaurants/ nightclubs, etc.
To mitigate the spread of foodborne illness, the Department of Health (DOH) will work with all other food-service and hospitality industry establishments such as cafeterias, civic and fraternal organizations, and bars and lounges that do not prepare food. These county health inspections will be risk-based meaning that establishments and operations that pose a larger threat to the public getting sick will be inspected more frequently, while those that pose less of a risk will be inspected less.
Get Started Creating Your Plan Review With Our Florida Restaurant License Consultants
Once you’ve determined the agency that will be governing your establishment in addition to hiring Florida restaurant license consultants, you will need to apply for a plan review and sanitation certificate. Both agencies have a plan review for “new” or “remodeled” establishments which is required prior to opening to the public and required by local building authorities to obtain a final Certificate of Occupancy (CO). Your license consultant will guide you through the process ensuring that you meet all the specifications.
Your plan review must include all equipment, furniture, and finishes containing each piece of equipment used for food operation and all areas for the public use, with a drawn to scale floor plan detailing where food will be prepared and disposed of. It is critical that this floor plan is highly detailed and labeled, indicating hand washing stations, plumbing services, lighting and electrical services, restrooms and food / dry storage areas, etc. Upon careful review, you will be notified in writing if any modifications or corrections that need to be made. Once the plans are approved, your initial inspection will be scheduled and take place, and you will be issued your Health Certificate or Permanent Food Service License.
Commonly Cited Health Issues
Once established, It is important to understand the difference between these governing agencies and the food health and safety standards that your establishment must maintain compliance with. Food that is prepared in unsafe conditions will quickly cause the spread of foodborne illness-causing bacteria and toxins. In turn, resulting in a re-inspection if not addressed ahead of time. As mentioned before, the severity of the violation can lead to the closure of your business. A professional Florida Restaurant License Consultant can provide you with a plan to guide you towards not having any violations the first time around.
However, the following health and safety best practices will help to keep your establishment sanitary and safe from the spread of illness.
- The use of gloves and proper handwashing techniques to include fingernails
- Maintaining safe temperatures for food preparation and storage. Inadequate refrigeration temperatures and/or holding temperatures will cause bacteria to multiply more quickly.
- Preventing cross-contamination from uncooked meat onto other food products
- Proper cleaning and sanitizing techniques for eating and cooking utensils as well as working and dining areas.
- Controlling contamination from outside pests such as roaches, flies, etc.
At Liquor License Professionals, our license consultants can help you navigate through the environmental health processes you will need for your business. When it comes to scheduled county health inspections, re-inspections, and complaint inspections, our consultants have the experience to formulate a plan based on your specific business needs. As they create the plan, they will take into account the ways in which your current business processes can improve upon. Once you address the areas of improvement, it will streamline the process towards getting your business open, and allows you to save money as your opening won’t be delayed because you are waiting on a reinspection. As a result, consultants help you understand the process better and set you and your business up for a satisfactory score.
For expert consultation and assistance with the required plan review, partner with our team of Florida restaurant license consultants at Liquor License Professionals. We will help to ensure that this process is completed quickly, correctly and to get your establishment up and running as soon and as smoothly as possible.