Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And he was right.
It is better to take steps to stop a problem before it becomes something you cannot handle. When it comes to preparing for an audit, preventing problems is much better than fixing them after the fact.
If your facility is found breaking rules and regulations, you could be fined or temporarily shut down. In fact, in 2016, 1 in 13 takeaways failed food hygiene inspections and had to display their poor ratings for all customers to see. Needless to say, you don’t want to advertise your restaurant is unhygienic according to a government agency.
Keep reading for our important tips to remember when preparing for a restaurant audit.
Know What the Auditor Is Looking for
Just as you need to follow standards for proper practice, auditors must operate according to a rulebook as well.
They often work silently and only talk to ask questions. Don’t let this shake you, the auditing process is a detailed and scrutinous one. If you familiarize yourself with the auditing process and understand what your auditor will look for during the process will inspire confidence.
While some restaurant safety and hygiene regulations are common sense, such as regular cleaning and such, some rules are not so obvious. For instance, an auditor may look for:
- Logs of how often you check and record the temperature of food and freezers
- Food handling and safety certifications held by any and all employees
- The location cleaning supplies (to make sure they are in a safe location tucked away where they cannot contaminate food)
- The location and availability of necessary supplies like gloves, hand soap, utensil
- Proper lighting in the building and parking lot
- Potentiential fire hazards
These are just a few aspects among many that an auditor may look at. A risk accessor can help you zero in on potential issues that your restaurant could run into.
Understand the Rating System
Preparing for an audit is daunting. Being watched by mysterious, critical eyes as you work makes the failure seem inevitable. Auditors aren’t “out to get you” or looking to fail you for arbitrary reasons.
These evaluations are carried out to protect the safety of public health. Knowing the rating system will help you gain the perspective of the auditor and know ahead of time what to plan for.
The Food Standard Agency rates businesses from 0-5. Here’s what those numbers mean:
5– very good– standards of hygiene are very good and are fully compliant with the law and the food is prepared, handled, stored, and made hygienically. The state of the restaurant (hygiene, layout, lights, pest control) is in good condition. The auditor feels confident standards will be maintained in the future.
4- standards of hygiene are good- the overall state of the restaurant is good but minor improvements are still needed.
3- standards of hygiene are generally satisfactory- current operations are good overall and the restaurant is maintaining safety standards. Improvement is needed but these problems likely don’t pose a threat to health.
2- some improvement is needed- the auditor has found problems that are concerning and current practices need to be changed promptly.
1- major improvement is needed- this means the auditor found a large number of poor hygiene practices and staff is not adequately trained.
0- urgent improvement is mandatory- reasons for a 0 rating are if the restaurant failed to maintain proper safety and hygiene records. Many current practices could put public health at immediate risk.
There are a lot of areas to focus on when evaluating the overall safety and hygiene of your establishment.
Brush up on the Basics
Food safety training is a must for all employees. If it has been a while since you or your employees have undergone training, you should go over the basics with everyone again. Some areas to focus on are:
- The importance of avoiding cross-contamination
- Food storage and proper labelling
- The overall hygiene of employees and the environment
- Maintenance of an accident-free environment (no knifes left in the open, wet floor signs, etc.)
This is one of the first steps you can take to prevent mistakes before they happen.
Update and Maintain Proper Protocol
When you have a daily work routine, it is easy to forget about small or tedious tasks like sweeping inside and outside of the building or accidentally leaving a personal item, like a water bottle, in the restaurant’s fridge.
Taking into consideration what the rating system looks like and what an auditor will look for, you such create a checklist. Creating a list for individual areas of your restaurant, such as dining area, kitchen, prep area, and so on, is a good way to make sure you check everything before your audit.
Following this checklist as a part of your daily routine for you and your employees can help you prepare for future audits. Building good habits are easier than stopping bad ones.
This is also an area were a safety expert can assist you. Some restaurants and managers are slow to change and may not be up-to-date on all of the current policies you need to follow. A risk and safety expert can help you create a thorough food safety programme.
Preparing for an Audit Made Easy
Preparing for an audit doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience. These evaluations happen not only with the safety of the public in mind but are in the best interest of the business owner as well. Having a team of risk and safety experts on your side is an indispensable resource.
If you are in need of assistance in your commercial kitchen to improve your food safety and hygiene practices, contact us here, or check out our blog for more information.