Being Inspection-Ready

Food

Being Inspection-Ready

NAVENIA
WELLINGTON

Thursday, September 10, 2020

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It is often said that adversity breeds innovation or creativity, and indeed that has happened in the food industry, particularly the fast food sector, as we traverse the novel coronavirus landscape. These business operators had to use an agile business strategy to try to mitigate the financial fallout of this dreaded virus. One of the ways this has been demonstrated is through successful integration of information communication technology and social media. I recall visiting the United States some time ago and using apps such as Grubhub and Ubereats. While some of the major fast food brands operating in Jamaica have been doing food delivery for years, it was not taken on by the smaller outfits until this time of adversary. One of the slogans these days seems to be “We know you can't dine with us, so we will deliver to you”.

As we innovate and create, we cannot lose sight of certain “must do's”, one of which is to be ready for health inspection from the public health inspectors. Most food business operations are back in business as the country normalises, but there is one main grouping of food business operators that is not yet operational: our schools. It is expected that they will be reopened within another month or so.

By now it is expected that all food business operators have conducted their risk assessments, in keeping with their food safety policy and the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Not done? What are you waiting on?

The cleaning and sanitisation programme should have also been revamped, instituting an increase in hand-washing and cleaning of surfaces especially those in heavy-contact areas. This is then supported by proper social distancing and in situations where social distancing is an issue the food business operator must have implemented practical strategies to reduce the risk of transmission. Some high-impact low-cost strategies are physical barriers, scheduling and staggering of arrival and departure times.

Health inspections are a mandatory requirement under the law; the number of inspections that is conducted annually depends on the risk level of the food business. Inspections, like audits, make some people tense while others react fearfully; it is viewed as a very stressful time. A food business operator or a food worker must realise that an inspector is there to help keep the business strong. Furthermore, an inspection can occur at any time; that is, the inspector is not required to announce his/her visit to your establishment. It is a breach of the regulations for a food business operator to bar the entry of the inspector.

You can assist this process by being ready for the health inspection; the best way to do this is to know the requirement of the regulations. Using the regulations as a guide to create a self-inspection list is advised. It is noteworthy to share that some of the most common breaches include food safety temperature violations, improper food storage, poor personal hygiene, poor kitchen sanitisation, cross-contamination and pest control infraction.

There is also a plethora of examples of templates on the Internet that can be adapted to the particular need of the business. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has published a self-assessment checklist for workplaces and public spaces. It can be found at https://www.moh.gov.jm/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Self-Assessment-Checklist-for-Public-Facilities-and-Workplaces_COVID_19_edit.pdf.

Are you inspection-ready?


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