Do you know how many restaurants are inspected each year? All 24,000. That’s a lot of letter grades. Many people do take into consideration these grades when deciding on a place to eat—and with so many dining options, diners do not have to risk their health or comfort by eating at any restaurant that cannot score an “A.”
Just because a restaurant receives an “A” does not mean the restaurant didn’t break any violations, but that the violations were minimal and do not pose a real health concern. However, this letter grade does impact your reputation and your customers’ trust resulting in either more or less business. Here are tips to help you get the letter grade everyone wants to see posted on your window.
What Restaurant Inspectors look for
The NYC Department of Health looks for live pests and rodents including roaches, mice, rats and flies(filth, food, refuge, and sewage-associated flies). They also look for evidence of these pests and conditions that attract these pests and allow them to survive. Because these pests can spread diseases and sicknesses, you want to make sure they are nowhere to be found for your customers’—and your business’s—sake.
Where to Look and Clean
When searching for live pests, inspectors look in dark areas including under and behind equipment and appliances. You want to keep these areas extremely clean, as these are the places pests are likely to hide.Inspectors will be crouching and using flashlights searching areas that are hard to see, in addition to food storage areas, containers, sinks, drains and garbage areas.
Look for Evidence
Evidence of rodents is not limited to droppings. Although inspectors do look for those, other traces include grease tracks along walls. These are generally about ¾ of an inch and marks from the tail are noticeable. Any holes in the establishment are checked for gnaw marks and depending on the restaurant’s location, (for example, near a park) the exterior will be inspected for rat burrows. If you see any of these, you want to begin taking measures to eliminate these rodents.
Inspectors will be checking cracks, holes, any openings really that would allow pests to enter the restaurant. You want to look for these also and close any off. Keep in mind that rats can enter through holes the size of a quarter and mice through the size of a dime. Roaches and flies, on the other hand, can enter through any size opening. Doors should be equipped with barriers such as anti-pest tension brushes. Garbage areas should be cleaned constantly as pests can shelter, hide, breed, and establish nests there. Old food and grease build-up on walls or equipment attracts pests and rodents so make sure you look out for that as well. Also check food containers tightly closing them and inspect food and supply deliveries as pests can be carried through them.
In order to consistently achieve “A” letter grades, you should create and follow a routine cleaning schedule.Also know that every food establishment is required to enter into a contract with a pest management professional, licensed by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, to provide preventive measures and extermination services. In cases that a pest infestation is severe and an imminent health hazard is present, the inspector may require food to be discarded. If the infestation affects the entire food establishment, the inspector will consult Department management, who will determine whether to order the establishment to close as a temporary, emergency measure until the pest infestation can be corrected.
If you suspect pests or rodents are infesting your food establishment, consult a pest control company. One can help you create a plan to eliminate the pests so you can get an “A” and focus on running your business.