Is a health inspection on the horizon for your business? Regular visits from EHOs (that’s environmental health officers) are an integral part of life as a caterer. EHO inspections are in place to ensure all catering businesses are offering a safe service to their customers. If they’re not satisfied with a business’ offering, EHOs are able to close down outlets, seize food or even prosecute the business owners.
But there’s no need to be nervous. Meeting your EHOs standards mostly comes down to operating professionally and using common sense. That said, a clear awareness of what is expected of your business will help to set you up for a positive inspection process and put your mind at ease.
How can you prepare?
EHOs will be checking three key areas of your business:
Is food hygienically prepared and stored?
Is the unit clean, ventilated, well-lit and properly equipped with services needed for catering, such as hot water?
Are suitable systems in place to ensure food safety is maintained long term?
With these criteria in mind, EHOs will be examining the cleanliness of your catering outlet, from the food-prep spaces to your serving area. So ensure everything is kept spotless as a habit, from table tops to the insides of storage units. Don’t forget to check and clean any vehicles you use to transport your food as well.
Likewise, keep your kit organised and in good working order. Do any light bulbs need replacing? Is your drainage up and running? Make sure you’re staying on top of your waste-management systems, too. Bins should be kept away from food and cleaned well at least once a day.
Have your documentation ready
It’s important to have all your documentation up to date. Your EHO will need to see your HACCP compliance documents (in case you’re wondering, HACCP stands for ‘hazard analysis and critical control points’). Then they may ask to watch you carrying out checks with your staff to prove that the right training and protocols are in place. For all the information you need on how to be HACCP-safe, check out the government’s guide: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/hazard-analysis-and-critical-control-point-haccp
We hope these pointers will help to take the pressure off your next inspection. It’s worth remembering that EHOs are highly experienced professionals in the food industry. They can actually be a great source of advice on running a successful, safe catering business. So, rather than approaching your next inspection as something to worry about, see it as a chance to learn something new.