What Health Inspectors Look for in Bars
Everyone knows how important health inspections are for the restaurant industry, but few people think about health inspections at bars the same way. It makes sense because a bar isn't handling raw meat or storing foods that could easily make people sick. However, people can still get sick from improper sanitation in bars, and bar health code violations are many, which is why it's important to look up a bar health inspection checklist for your state before you go through an inspection in order to make sure you'll get a passing grade.
Because health department rules and regulations vary so widely from state to state, and many counties even have their own guidelines, it is important to look up a health department checklist for food establishments based on your location.
The health inspection checklist for restaurants in your county or state may cover certain things that don't apply to a typical bar, but it will tell you what a health inspector will look for in your bar. This could include things like pest control, refuse disposal, employee hygiene, cleanliness of the location and dishes, properly working water and sewage systems and more.
Since a lot of the food-handling details found in a typical restaurant and bar health code checklist might not apply to the average bar, it's important to understand what common bar-room procedures might cause you to fail a health inspection. For example, never let employees scoop ice with a glass because if it breaks, it could leave glass in the ice, which is a hazard to your employees and patrons. If you see someone serve a drink by touching the rim, he needs a serious talking to because no one wants people touching a glass right where the mouth is placed.
Everyone knows that restaurant workers need to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, sneezing, touching the nose, coughing, after handling money, etc. The same applies to bartenders and servers in bars. Don't ever let your staff get away with not washing their hands frequently enough. For that matter, also ensure that your glassware is always properly cleaned and is not just quickly dipped in a sink full of soapy water, something busy bartenders have been known to do when they don't feel like they have enough time to do a proper cleaning.
Another thing busy bartenders often do is skip cleaning the draft beer lines, but this needs to be done either once a week or whenever the keg is changed. Similarly, if your bartenders cut garnishes without cleaning them, the knife or the cutting board, that is a problem that needs to be corrected. Garnishes also need to be thrown out at the end of the night, and the garnish holder needs to be cleaned before the next day.
One thing employers, bartenders and servers rarely know is that health inspectors look for cell phone use as a red flag. That's because cell phones are known to harbor all kinds of bacteria and are very rarely sanitized. Your employees shouldn't really be using cell phones while on duty anyway, but if they do, they need to make sure they wash their hands after using the phone and before they go back to serving drinks or else it might cost you points on your health inspection.