ComplianceMate Blog

Why Factors Affecting Your Restaurant Inspection Scores Should be Ingredients of Your Checklists

It’s all in the number or the letter. Any restaurant health inspection will result in a final score. Sometimes it’s a number, like here in Georgia. Other times, it’s a letter grade.

Regardless, that score will significantly impact customer interest in your restaurant.

That’s where checklists get to work. They ensure that tasks are really getting done, in order to help the establishment bolster their grade. In other words, what many restaurant employees don’t realize – and even managers and owners can sometimes forget – is that there is a direct relationship between (1) those checklists, (2) the restaurant’s inspection score and (3) its business performance. 

Consider the following findings, adapted from the report of an actual restaurant inspection in Texas:

Severity Violation Comments
Non-critical Cleaning Floor and walls are filthy at kitchen. Repeat offense.
Non-critical Cleaning Exterior of food equipment racks and countertops are filthy.
Non-critical Temperature Failure to provide hot water (min. 100°F) at hand wash sink.
Non-critical Cleaning Potential contamination to food from unclean equipment. Repeat offense.
Critical Temperature Ground beef patties stored at 46°F.

That restaurant scored a C (there were also some other issues as well, not listed here), but the most interesting point: almost every line item relates back to a checklist item or temperature monitoring issue. Seeing this list of problems begs the question: were they even doing their checklists?

In fact, if you have faced a less-than-favorable audit, don’t just fix the immediate issues and forget it. You’ll note the restaurant above had several repeat offenses, and that’s ridiculous. As soon as you face an issue in your safety inspection, incorporate it into your processes and monitor via checklist.

Admittedly, it’d be easy for checklists to get out of control. Here’s where a digital format helps. Since it takes only a finger swipe to satisfy the item, and wireless temperature probes will automatically capture the temperature (no human intervention required), the process can fly by. Restaurants can incorporate more checklist items yet still complete the overall process faster. Better yet, digital checklists are not vulnerable to pencil whipping like paper lists.

At the very least, ensure that your checklists address any hot button issues that inspectors are evaluating within the restaurant that make up that letter or number grade.

Read more about food safety checklists, or contact ComplianceMate with questions.