6 Easy To Miss Places You Need To Clean Before Your Next Health Inspection

There’s no feeling quite like it.  You’re rolling through production, getting your mise en place ready for dinner service. Suddenly your FOH manager sprints through the kitchen door, huffing and puffing. She says in hushed, solemn tones, “The Department of Health is here.”  Maybe your equipment is all in great shape. Maybe your floor has been recently mopped. Maybe trash has been taken out, and the dish pit isn’t overflowing.  You feel good; great, even.  But there’s that dread in the pit of your stomach.  What have you forgotten?!

There’s no need to fear.  Take a quick look at a few easy-to-forget items below, throw them into your daily (or in some cases, weekly) sanitation checklist, and breathe easy.

1.  Cutting Boards

6 Easy To Miss Places You Need To Clean Before Your Next Health Inspection

Cutting boards are brilliant creations.  They allow us to cut on a sanitary surface without a) making a horrible mess on an otherwise clean work surface, and b) dulling our knives to the point that they’re entirely useless on a stainless steel work station.  The thing is, though, that those nicks and deep cuts on the surface of the board make it that much more difficult to clean.  Regularly soaking boards in bleach solution and will not only limit your negative interaction with the inspector, it will also limit the odds that you will inadvertently make someone sick. You can also purchase a cutting board scraper. This will allow you to smooth out the nicks in the cutting board yourself on a regular basis.

2. The Handles on your Lowboy Doors

6 Easy To Miss Places You Need To Clean Before Your Next Health Inspection

It’s really easy to do a beautiful job detailing a refrigerator unit. But many of you probably leave this little nugget out.  Have you ever seen the inspector linger a moment when opening your fridge door?  Maybe caress it a bit?  It’s not love, it’s checking for grime. Make sure you clean under those handles.

3.  The Deepest Depths of your Lowboy

6 Easy To Miss Places You Need To Clean Before Your Next Health Inspection

We’ve all been there:  Service is winding down, finally. After a long night of cooking and sweating and plating and cursing and repeating, it comes time to clean.  It’s really tempting to hustle through, leave all of the product in place, and wipe down really quickly.  Don’t fall prey to this baser instinct.  Take an extra moment, and make sure you’ve gotten all that schmutz out of those recesses.  You know the ones I’m talking about.

4.  The Deepest Depths Behind your Hot Line

6 Easy To Miss Places You Need To Clean Before Your Next Health Inspection

Once a week, build a little bit into your schedule to take a deck brush to the corners. Scrub off that grease and filth accumulating back behind your equipment, or else you’ll find yourself scheduling full days to make up for it. Trust me, it’s better to stay ahead of it. You don’t want the health inspector to see a few week’s worth of grease back there.

5.  Your Side Towels

6 Easy To Miss Places You Need To Clean Before Your Next Health Inspection

Is your towel beautiful and pristine?  If not, get rid of it.  They harbor bacteria, and also, that’s just gross. This is a really simple thing to fix that a lot of you are probably guilty of letting go for too long.

6. The Lip of your Ice Machine

6 Easy To Miss Places You Need To Clean Before Your Next Health Inspection

This one is particularly easy to miss, and just as easy to remedy.  Mold can (and will) build up on the lip of your ice machine. You have to let it know it’s not welcome with a weekly wipe down with sanitizer.  Many otherwise immaculate kitchens have lost points for neglecting an incredibly simple cleaning project.

For more tips on Health Inspections, check out 5 Tips for a Successful Department of Health Inspection, by Patterson Watkins and Are You Ready for the Health Inspector? by Drew Gobrecht.

What do you do to prepare for an inspection from the Department of Health? We’d love to hear about it! Don’t forget to share in the comments below or on any of our social media accounts. Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube! 


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Ryan Lamon

Professional Chef/Restaurateur and Recipe Writer/Tester

Ryan, a second generation Georgia pitmaster, began his career at his father’s restaurant, Frank’s Real Pit BBQ in Hoschton, GA. After working at several restaurants in Georgia, Ryan moved to New York City where he cooked at the original Fatty Crab under James Beard Award-winning chef Zak Pelaccio. He later he earned a Bon Appetit Best New Restaurants nod in 2012 as the opening chef de cuisine of Plum Alley in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2013, Ryan started Peaches’ Smokehouse & Southern Kitchen, a gourmet BBQ and Southern food truck, and followed it up with Poppy+Rose, a brick-and-mortar in downtown LA a year later. He is currently operating a small consulting firm, Smoke and Vinegar Co.

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