Speaking directly to the food service employees preparing the food is also an excellent way to assess the effectiveness of the establishment’s food safety training and standard operating procedures for critical processes such as cooling. Noting that receiving or food preparation is occurring at the beginning of the inspection allows inspectors an opportunity to take advantage of viewing “real-life” production processes and will help inspectors to obtain a clear picture of the establishment's true practices. Receiving and food preparation only occur during limited times, so inspectors may want to stop and observe these operational steps while they are happening.
Early in the inspection, temperatures of potentially hazardous foods (time/temperature control for safety (TCS) foods) should be taken. For example, if inspecting in the morning, inspectors should check the temperatures of last night’s stored leftovers. If inspecting in the afternoon, inspectors should check the temperatures of foods prepared that morning that are now cooling. Also, inspectors should ask whether any foods are currently being cooked or reheated.
Determine Process Flows
Many retail and food service establishments have implemented effective food safety management systems by establishing controls for the food preparation methods and processes common to their operation. Control of food preparation processes rather than individual food items is often called the “process approach” to HACCP. The process approach using the principles of HACCP can best be described as dividing the many food items in an operation into food preparation processes then analyzing the foodborne illness risk factors associated with each process. By placing managerial controls on specific operational steps in the flow of food, foodborne illness can be prevented.
As presented in Annex 4 of the Food Code, most food items produced in a retail or food service establishment can be categorized into one of three preparation processes based on the number of times the food passes through the temperature danger zone between 41o F and 135o F. In conducting risk-based inspections, it is necessary for an inspector to be knowledgeable regarding how food is prepared in the operation. Knowing how products are prepared in an establishment allows inspectors to focus their inspections on the critical procedures and steps in the preparation of those products.
Determine Foodborne Illness Risk Factors In Process Flows
Annex 4 of the Food Code details the essential control measures specific to each food preparation process, in addition to essential facility-wide control measures. Inspectors should generally focus their inspections on verifying that operators have implemented control measures to control for foodborne illness risk factors common to the processes conducted in each operation. There may be other foodborne illness risk factors unique to specific operations; thus, inspectors should independently evaluate each operation and food preparation process conducted.
Annex 5 – Conducting Risk-based Inspections 521