What Health Inspectors Look for in Bars

by Elizabeth James ; Updated September 26, 2017

Health inspectors show up unexpectedly, so it's imperative that your bar is ready for an inspection at any time. There are a variety of items on a checklist that a health inspector checks out when visiting a bar. Staying on top of sanitation, legal items and food and drink preparation will help ensure a smooth visit.


The bar needs to have all permits in place to operate. Special permits are needed to serve alcohol and serve food. Ensure that you have all permits necessary for the services your bar offers. Permit needs differ based on location and business. There are a number of different permits and licenses you may need, such as a beer license, liquor licenses, business license, property use permit, certificate of occupancy, health department permit and a professional license.

Employee Hygiene

Sick employees cannot handle food or drink. Employees need to wash hands after using the restroom, and signs should be in place to ensure this happens. Food that is ready to eat should not be handled with bare hands, so have gloves available for all employees. Hand washing facilities with warm water mush be readily available.

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Food needs to be purchased from an approved source, and it should be kept at safe temperatures at all times. Records should be in place for food purchases and preparation. Thermometers should be in working order and calibrated regularly. Expired food needs to be discarded. Employees need to be trained on chemicals and cross-contamination of food. All chemicals used for cleaning and other topic substances need to be labeled and stored correctly so there is no chance of cross-contamination. All food and drink preparation areas are required to be clean and sanitized. Some states outlaw tobacco use where food is served. Make sure all eating, drinking and smoking take place in designated areas.


There should be proper measures in place to deter rodents and bugs. Hot and cold water need to be functioning to sanitize, clean and operate the restaurant. All areas of the bar should be clean and in working order. This includes restaurant equipment, tables, floors, bathrooms, food storage areas and all parts of the bar.

About the Author

Based in South Florida, Beth Swanson has been writing professionally since 2005. Her articles have been published in the magazines “Kiwi," “Natural Home,” “Clean Eating,” “Palm Beacher," the “Miami New Times” and several other publications. Swanson earned a Master of Arts degree in integrated marketing communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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