A review of the menu/food list allows inspectors to begin to group food items into one of three broad process categories (discussed in Annex 4 of the Food Code and later in this Annex). Mentally grouping products by process assists inspectors in focusing the inspection on the control measures critical to each process. Conducting a review of the menu/food list also allows inspectors to establish inspection priorities by identifying:
High-risk foods or high-risk food preparation processes
Operational steps requiring further inquiry such as receiving, preparation,
cooking, and cooling.
By identifying high-risk foods or high-risk food preparation processes, inspectors can focus the inspection on those foods or processes that are more likely to cause foodborne illness if uncontrolled. The menu/food list review might be the only time inspectors are made aware of specialized processes such as formulating a food so that it is not potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food or high-risk seasonal menu items such as “raw oysters on the half shell.” Foods such as shellstock and certain fish for raw consumption require documentation that should be reviewed during the inspection. If Caesar salad or hollandaise sauce is served, further inquiry is needed regarding the preparation of these items since they are sometimes prepared with raw or undercooked eggs.
Several operational steps like receiving, preparation, cooking, and cooling may not be inspected as vigorously in retail and food service inspections due, in part, to the hours of the day in which these steps occur. If a food establishment is inspected in the afternoon hours, for example, receiving and food preparation might have already occurred. In order to evaluate the establishment’s active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors, it is imperative that inspectors ask enough questions to obtain information about the operational steps that they cannot directly observe during the current inspection.
Conduct a Quick Walk-through
As inspectors discuss the menu or food list and establishes open communication with the person in charge, it is suggested that they conduct a quick walk-through of the food establishment to observe what is going on at that time. Conducting a quick walk- through is especially important to observe several activities that might otherwise go unnoticed or unobserved until later in the inspection, including:
Food preparation and handling
Annex 5 – Conducting Risk-based Inspections 520