How to Pass an Environmental Health Inspection
More people eat out, in more places that provide food, with more pubs offering more food choice, with more instances of getting ‘inspected’. And not surprisingly, instances of food poisoning are rising roughly in line with this increase in dining out and the number of places to consume food (pretty obvious really)!
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have inspectors galore who visit pubs and give them a ‘Rating’ – with a rating of 5 being the tops, and 1 being close to closure!!
Fines range from 13k for a gastro pub (or gastro-enteritis pub?) with a mouse infestation, up to £1.5 million for a pub that killed a lady with a Christmas dinner (and poisoned a further 32 customers). With not only fines to face, but also potential jail-terms and an inevitable loss of reputation to follow!
What Do Inspectors Look For?
It’s all about being clean and hygienic, silly. Oh, and by the way, if you do not sell any food at all, beer is still considered to be a ‘food’ – so no hiding place there.
You are likely to get an inspection about every 18 months (unannounced, but at a reasonable time of day or night) with an Environmental Health Inspector knocking on your door to inspect levels of cleanliness throughout the trading premises, and any area that might contain beer or food or associated with the provision of food. On top of that of course, they are looking for infestation (or signs of) dodgy building structures, mould in cellars and just about anything that can considered to be to the detriment of cleanliness! Of vital importance during their visit; they will be seeking to interrogate your paperwork, which should be the Bible you keep updated and maintained to show EVIDENCE that you are making the necessary checks regarding food use-by dates, cleaning schedules, hand-washing facilities and materials, removal of dirty cloths etc.
It matters not a jot if you’ve just spent £100k on the best kitchen/cellar/bar, and all have surfaces you could eat your dinner from. Without the paperwork to show that you carry out all of the required checks, you will NOT get a 4 or 5-star rating. And with such high levels of social media attention these days, this sort of rating is vital to let customers know of your excellence.
Oh, and by the way, ‘invented’ records will fool no inspector – these Ladies and Gentlemen have seen it all. Much better to keep them as friends rather than enemies! Much easier to work with EHO officers, than fight or argue with them (although you do have a right of appeal if you disagree with their rating assessment). They will make reasonable demands of you and your facilities and practices – it’s up to you to run a clean pub!
And how about those beer-lines of yours? Fail to clean them properly on a weekly basis and you’ll see the lines grow the most obnoxious calcium oxalate, tannins, yeast and mould! Try selling a good pint with that lot lurking along a 50-foot beer run!
So once you have wonderfully clean beer lines, fresh beer, cooled to 13 degrees in a spotless cellar, why put it in an unclean glass? Try the clean glass test: fill one glass with water, tip it into another glass, then see if the glass you tipped it out of has any water clinging to the sides; IF IT DOES, IT AINT CLEAN (water can only stick to grease, or protein, of dirt)! And make sure that you RENOVATE every 2 months or so.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness, a 5-star rating is next to heaven, and a 1-star rating is close to hell – or hellishly close to closing down!