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What is a Food Safety Inspector?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A food safety inspector is responsible for ensuring restaurants and food processing plants maintain legal health and safety standards. A professional conducts thorough inspections of facilities, checking freezers, refrigerators, storage shelves, and cooking equipment. Most food safety inspectors work for regional or national government boards of health and have the authority to issue warnings and impose fines when they find code violations. Some professionals are employed by private consulting firms to provide suggestions and training for restaurant workers to help them improve their practices.

Food storage warehouses, processing facilities, grocery stores, and restaurants in most countries are held to high food safety and quality standards. It is the responsibility of a food safety inspector to make sure sanitation codes are met at all times in order to protect consumers. When an inspector visits a facility, he or she performs a careful walk-through and notes any areas of concern. After completing a walk-through, he or she fills out a standard form and informs the owner of the results of the inspection.

When a violation is discovered, the food safety inspector first points out the problem to managers and workers and issues either a written warning or fine as he or she sees fit. Small problems that can be easily remedied, such as a freezer at a slightly lower temperature than appropriate, usually warrant simple warnings. Fine-worthy situations typically entail more serious infractions, such as unwashed culinary utensils or food being stored on a dirty floor.

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Most food safety inspectors will provide owners with tips or hands-on training on how to come into compliance with sanitation codes. A professional can also explain to managers and workers why certain cleaning tasks are necessary. He or she can demonstrate the proper way to prepare, store, or transport goods to prevent possible contamination. The food safety inspector usually revisits a facility after a given period of time to ensure practices have since improved.

A person who wants to work as a food safety inspector usually needs to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in a related subject and complete specialized training courses and exams offered by a regional organization. Relatively few colleges offer degree programs directly focused on food safety, but a hopeful inspector can still gain relevant skills and education in an agricultural science or occupational health program. After earning a degree, a professional can investigate specific certification requirements in his or her area. New inspectors typically begin their careers as inspectors' assistants to gain practical experience before working independently.

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