HOW OFTEN ARE FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS INSPECTED?
Restaurants – 2-4 Times a Year depending on Risk Category
Food Stands – 1-4 Times a Year depending on Risk Category
Meat Markets – 3 Times a Year
School Lunchrooms – 2-4 Times a Year depending on Risk Category
Nursing Home Cafeterias – 4 Times a Year
Hospital Cafeterias – 4 Times a Year
Temporary Food Stands – Permitted Each Event
Limited Food Stands – 1-4 Times a Year depending on Risk Category
Elderly Nutrition Sites – 4 Time a Year
Mobile Food Units/Pushcarts – 1-4 Times a Year depending on Risk Category
DO RESTAURANTS AND OTHER FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS KNOW WHEN THEY ARE GOING TO BE INSPECTED?
No, inspections are unannounced. Health inspectors try to conduct each required inspection at different times of the day to see how that establishment receives their food and supplies, prepares and cooks food and also how they clean. Sometimes inspections are conducted during busy meal times and other times they may be conducted at opening or closing of the facility.
WHAT DO HEALTH INSPECTORS (ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALISTS) LOOK FOR DURING AN INSPECTION?
North Carolina Health Inspectors conduct risk-based inspections, which focuses mainly on foodborne illness-related risk factors. These risk factors were identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being major contributors to known foodborne illness outbreaks.
- Improper hot and cold holding, cooling or reheating of potentially hazardous food
- Not cooking potentially hazardous food to the required minimum internal temperatures
- Cross-contamination and contamination of food-contact surfaces
- Purchasing food from unapproved sources
- Poor personal hygiene of food handlers or food handlers with communicable diseases
Health Inspectors also check to see if establishments are free of pests, that equipment and utensils are clean and in good repair, that floors/walls/ceilings are clean and in good repair, garbage is properly handled and warewashing facilities are maintained, clean and in good repair.
See the grade sheet for more specific information: Food Service Inspection Sheet
WHAT DOES THE SANITATION SCORE MEAN?
The sanitation grade for all food service establishments is based on a system of scoring. Establishments receiving a score of 90 or higher are awarded a Grade A, establishments that receive a score between 80 and 89 are awarded a Grade B and establishments that receive a score between 70 and 79 are awarded a Grade C. Any establishment that receives a score of less than 70 will be closed and their permit to sell food will be revoked.
An establishment can receive a credit of two points that is included with their score for each inspection if a manager or another full time employee responsible for the operation of the establishment has successfully completed in the past three years an approved Food Safety Course such as ServSafe. In order to receive the 2 point credit on an inspection, the establishment must keep a copy of the Certificate of Completion and documentation that the course was at least 12 hours on file at the establishment and provide it to the Inspector upon request.
DO ESTABLISHMENTS HAVE TO POST THEIR SANITATION SCORE WHERE CUSTOMERS CAN VIEW IT?
Yes, Sanitation Scores/Grade Cards have to be posted in an area where customers and easily see it. Establishments with drive-thru windows have to post additional Grade Cards in the drive-thru windows for customers who do not come into the establishment.