Health Department Checklist for Food Establishments

/ Commercial Kitchens, Foodservice Tips, Preventative Maintenance & Cleaning, Restaurant Tips / April 13

Health Dept Checklist for Food Establishment

From restaurants and bars to hospitals and hotels, all commercial kitchens in the United States must to pass inspections. While the experience can be tense, health inspections are necessary to ensure a kitchen stays sanitary and safe. State and local inspectors look for things like cleanliness, correct food storage and proper equipment function. We’ve put together a helpful health department checklist for restaurants and other food establishments, so they can try to stay up to code.

Health Inspection Checklist

The following list allows you to regularly evaluate areas that each inspector grades. Answering “yes” to these questions means your kitchen should be in good shape.

Food & Dry Storage



  • Are surfaces and floors in all storage areas clean?

  • Are dry storage areas at a proper ambient temperature (50°F – 70°F)?

  • Are food and supplies at least 6 inches off the ground?

  • Are food and ingredient containers labeled with names and delivery dates?

  • Are you practicing FIFO (first in, first out) with all items?

  • No cans are leaking or swollen?

  • No chemicals are mixed in with food?


Food Prep & Handling



  • Is the entire kitchen staff using proper utensils, clean gloves and clean hands when handling food?

  • Are utensils cleaned properly and not touched in areas that handle food?

  • Are tasting utensils cleaned immediately after being used once?

  • Are reusable towels only used for sanitizing equipment and NOT for cleaning hands, floors, utensils or other surfaces?

  • Is frozen food thawed in refrigeration units or by running under cold water?

  • Is food heated at the proper temperature and placed in a heated holding area when done?

  • Are you not cross contaminating food?


Refrigeration & Freezer Units



  • Are refrigeration thermometers visible and working accurately?

  • Is food being stored at a proper refrigerated or freezing temperature?

  • Is food at least 6 inches off the ground?

  • Are you practicing FIFO (first in, first out) with all items?

  • Are all surfaces, shelves, floors and doors of walk-in units clean?

  • Are all surfaces, shelves and doors of reach-in units clean?


Hot-Side Equipment 



  • Are foods in your ovens, fryers, steamers, holding cabinets, etc. not cross contaminating?

  • Are the interior and exterior surfaces and doors on your hot-side equipment clean?

  • Are the attachments, including racks, shelves and fryer baskets, on your hot-side equipment clean?

  • Are exhaust hood and filters are clean?

  • Is food is heated to at least 165°F before placing in hot holding?

  • Is food held at above 140°F in holding equipment?


Beverage & Prep Equipment

Health Dept Checklist for Food Establishment-Kitchen Inspector


  • Are slicers, mixers, grinders, blenders, processors and other food prep equipment cleaned and sanitized between uses?

  • Do slicers, mixers, grinders, blenders, processors and other food prep equipment look clean and operate safely?

  • Are coffee machines, soda dispensers, juicers and other beverage equipment cleaned daily?

  • Are syrups and other beverage ingredients labeled with names and delivery dates?


Garbage & Pest Control



  • Are your indoor garbage and recycles bins clean and NOT overflowing?

  • Are your loading-area dumpsters clean and NOT overflowing?

  • Do your loading-area dumpsters have lids?

  • Are your loading-area dumpster lids closed?

  • Are boxes removed from your loading area?

  • Is there no evidence of pests in your facility?

  • Is there no evidence of pests by your loading area?

  • Are your windows, doors and screens in good shape?


Cleaning Practices



  • Does your kitchen have a three-station setup for washing, rinsing and sanitizing?

  • Are you using proper water temperature during cleaning?

  • Are your utensils covered while in storage?

  • Do you clean utensils between uses?

  • Are utensils air dried after washing?

  • Are food prep stations and surfaces sanitized between uses and cleaned thoroughly at the end of the day?

  • Are your shelving and storage cabinets clean?

  • Are you properly diluting cleaners and sanitizers according to the container’s label or manufacturer’s recommendation?

  • Are your wipe-down cloths being stored in sanitizing solution while in use?


Staff Hygiene



  • Is everyone washing their hands properly? (see CDC handwashing guide)

  • Is everyone washing their hands after handling raw food, wet ingredients or money?

  • Is your kitchen staff washing their hands after changing stations?

  • Is everyone covering their coughs and sneezes or blowing their noses properly?

  • Is everyone washing their hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing their noses?

  • Is everyone washing their hands after using the restroom?

  • Are female members of the kitchen staff wearing hairnets?

  • Are bearded males in your kitchen staff wearing beard nets?

  • Are everyone’s fingernails clean, short and without polish?

  • Is everyone wearing limited amounts of jewelry (i.e. limited to just plain earrings, rings and watches)?

  • Is everyone covering cuts, scrapes and bandages when cooking or handling food?

  • Is everyone wearing their proper uniforms and shoes?


Health Inspection Score Meaning

Once an inspector looks over your establishment, he or she will tally up violations and give a grade. There are different ways state and local bodies score health inspections. The two most common grading systems are done with either letters or points. Below is a quick breakdown:

Letter Grading


Standard Letters

Status

Violations

A

Good

Zero or few minor violations.
Possibly one major violation.

B

Passing

Few minor and major violations.

C

Poor

Many low or major violations.

Point Grading


Standard Point Ranges

Status

Violations

90 and higher

Good

Zero or few minor violations.
Possibly one major violation.

80-89

Passing

Multiple minor violations.
Possibly one major violation.

70-79

Needs Work

Multiple minor and major violations.

69 and lower

Poor

Many low or major violations.


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