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EHO, EH Who? A quick guide for your EHO inspection…

Friday, September 15, 2017

Contents

If you have a kitchen and cater to the public it will be inspected by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to make sure that you are following the law and your food is safe to eat. We’ve created this blog post to give you an idea of what they’ll be looking for, but be sure to check out the official FSA guidelines too.

The EHO will be looking at three key areas:

  1. Your premises
  2. Your food safety management system + HACCP
  3. Kitchen processes and staff

Your Premises

First impressions are important and the first thing an EHO is going to see is the outside of your business which will give them visible clues to the likely hygiene standards of the premises. If the outside of your business is unclean and untidy, then the EHO is likely to believe the interior to be of a similar standard. So start by preparing the outside of your business. Is it clean? Are the drains clear? Is there litter lying around? Similarly, be sure to check behind your premises. Is the waste overflowing? Is there clutter and a general feeling of disorganisation?At this point, the EHO may not have even entered your establishment. But in their mind, they are painting a mental picture of you and your business. One way to get ahead and a feel for what the EHO may see from the outside of your business is to ask a friend to HONESTLY comment on the appearance of your premises. Do they think it looks untidy, dirty or unsafe? Sometimes a new set of eyes can see things that you may previously have missed. Once inside your premises the first thing the EHO is likely to check is whether there’s a supply of HOT water and that it is working, if you have a dodgy unreliable boiler then it’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new. If you don’t have access to hot water then there’s a problem, as this is potentially an immediate point of failure and you could be temporarily closed for business. The EHO officer will also be checking the interior and be looking at whether your walls, ceiling, floors, doors and windows are potential hazards. The whole point of the inspection is to find out if you have facilities that can accommodate the production of safe food.

Your Food Safety Management System + HACCP

Kafoodle Menu management and safety software - EHO inspection

The next point of inspection is your Food Safety Management System including HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points). Do you understand what a Critical Control Point is? Do you know about Critical Limits? You may do, but do your staff know? Before your EHO visits, make sure to know where your critical control points are in your food business and that you know the critical limits at each critical point. Then write them down and record them effectively. The importance of a Food Safety Management System is growing as more and more emphasis is placed on the HACCP principles. If you don’t have a Food Safety management system and your paperwork is not up to date then this is another area for potential failure. Make sure to look into the types of hazards that affect your food business? The 4 categories of hazard are namely:

  • Physical, such as hair and cardboard etc
  • Chemical, such as detergent, disinfectant, fly Spray etc
  • Bacterial, including E-Coli, Salmonella, Listeria etc
  • Allergens, such as tree nuts, peanuts, wheat etc (There’s a free food allergen poster at the end of this post)

Make sure that you are aware how these could impact your business and ways that you can prevent them doing so. A simple way to control allergens is to avoid cross-contamination and communicate effectively with your customers.If you’re worried that your Food Safety Management System is not up to date then you can find out more about what Kafoodle’s software can do to help you get it under control, here.

Kitchen Processes and Staff

The final key inspection points are your kitchen processes and staff. Are your kitchen process smooth, efficient and safe for food production? By having a good food-safe workflow you will most likely already be avoiding cross-contamination of raw and cooked foods as well as food allergens. During this section, the EHO officer will also be checking to see if new deliveries can be put away at safe temperatures quickly and efficiently and if your preparation areas of high-risk raw food are separated from those for cooked food. The MOST common reason for food poisoning is food being in the danger zone too long. Therefore if you have an efficient kitchen process, you are going to help yourself enormously. Don't forget your staff are under inspection to, make sure that their training records are up to date and written down somewhere. How clean are your staff? Do they wear the correct, clean clothing every day? Do they know when and how to wash their hands properly? These may seem like obvious points but they’re easy ones to miss and you’d be amazed how many people don’t realise the impact that their staff can have on food safety.

It is a criminal offence to prevent the EHO from carrying out their inspection of your premises. But return there are a few things that you can expect from the EHO.

They should:

  • Give you feedback and a debrief from any inspection, including any identified issues and guidance on how to fix them.
  • They must make a clear distinction between what you must do to comply with the law, and what is recommended good practice.
  • They should give you in writing the reasons for any action you were asked to take.
  • They will identify any apparent breach of the law, and provide a statement of what that law is.
  • They should give you reasonable time to meet mandatory requirements (except where there is an immediate risk to public health).
  • Outline procedures for appealing against local authority action.

There’s no reason to fear your EHO inspection, in fact, view it as a way to improve your practices and ask questions to an expert in their field. The chances are you have nothing to be afraid of and embracing the inspection process, implementing any requested changes and striving for a safer food business will leave you with a great food rating and an even better business.

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Further reading:https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/hygieneratings/food-law-inspectionshttps://www.foodalert.com/news-views/eho-inspectionsThe information contained in this blog post has been created and compiled for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety or health & safety advice.

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