If you own or manage a restaurant, you know that cleanliness and pest control matter to your customers. What you may not realize is that, in today’s electronic communication world, cleanliness and pest control are even more important than ever before.


If you fail a restaurant health inspection, it's natural to feel overwhelmed with the work you'll need to do to get back to business. A smart first step is taking the time to understand exactly what getting up to code entails.Here's what you need to know about failing a health inspection—and what it will take to turn things around.

How a Restaurant can Fail a Health Inspection 

Ideally, you're doing everything you need to do to pass a health inspection every day, whether one is looming or not. Routine restaurant inspections are conducted by local and state health departments every 6 to 18 months to check just that. The frequency depends on factors determined by the FDA and can include your history of compliance and the type of food you serve. If you fail your inspection, it could be due to a number of factors, such as:

  • Poor employee hygiene (ex. lack of proper hand washing)
  • The temperature of stored food, including meat, produce, and dairy in the danger zone for developing bacteria
  • Improper food prep practices (ex. ignoring defrosting and cross-contamination guidelines)
  • Dirty, broken, or unsafe equipment, appliances, and utensils
  • Inconsistent or unhygienic waste removal
  • Pests or evidence of pests and activity in unsanitary areas

Many of the issues above can also attract pests like cockroaches, rodents, ants, flies, and more. As far as a health inspector is concerned, even if you don't have pests yet, an infestation may be likely if you continue in the same direction.

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What to Do After you Fail a Restaurant Health Inspection

A health inspection failure can result in a mandatory shut-down for a pre-determined length of time. A notice of the failed inspection may be posted in the front window, and the results are also posted online. That means in addition to the loss of revenue, your reputation will also take a hit. Now is the time to focus your efforts on improving your day-to-day operations to address the issues found in the inspection. During this time, you'll be expected to do a thorough cleaning, train your staff in hygiene and cleaning expectations, and put procedures in place to fix issues. Your to-do list may include:

  • Re-train staff to ensure they understand hygiene and cleanliness standards are a mandatory part of their job
  • Update food storage practices, replacing containers if necessary
  • Provide guidelines for food prep to all staff
  • Repair and replace any damaged equipment and appliances and deep clean under and behind equipment
  • Contact a pest control company to do an inspection
  • Create a master cleaning schedule to include routine and deep cleaning

A pest control expert can help by conducting a thorough inspection for signs of pests and practices that may be putting you at risk of attracting pests. After the inspection, they'll recommend any necessary treatments for existing infestations, recommend repairs and changes you need to make, and ensure you have a plan moving forward. If you have a master sanitation schedule and follow it, not only will you always be prepared for a surprise health inspection, but your customers will feel comfortable coming back and spending money at your establishment.

Worried about pests hurting your reputation and bottom line? Call us at 877.837.6464 for a free estimate or to schedule a service.

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