Common Health Code Violations and How To Avoid Them

Control of Time and Temperature

Time and temperature control (also called TTC) is one of the most important aspects of food safety. To correctly observe time and temperature control protocols, all foods must be kept at food-safe temperatures for the appropriate length of time. This includes hot foods, cold foods, raw foods, and cooked foods.

Why Temperature and Time Control is Important

Failure to adhere to time and temperature controls can cause bacteria to grow in your food and spread foodborne illnesses. Inspectors from the health department will check a range of food in your kitchen to ensure that it is being stored safely. Foods in cold or hot storage, food on display at your buffet, and foods being reheated are all included.

Common time and temperature mistakes

Health inspectors will also be looking for common violations, such as:

  • Do not leave frozen meats and fish on the counter to thaw. (should be thawed either in the fridge or in the microwave).
  • Foods or ingredients that are not being used (foods taken from cold storage or unattended food must be prepared, cooked, or returned to cold storage).
  • Foods with time-controlling but no labels. (Foods being served, displayed, or sold without temperature control must be labeled.)
  • Foods not properly cooled (Foods must be cooled by an approved process prior to being stored in cold storage).

How to Avoid a TTC Infraction

  1. How to create a HACCP Plan 
  2. It is important to identify any potential TTC violations within your kitchen. Teach your staff how to use thermometers correctly, label food, and thaw frozen items. Improper Food Storage

Any foods that are not being prepped or cooked must be stored properly to maintain food safety. The correct food storage procedure encompasses the types of food containers used, the application of date and identification labels, and the order and location of how products are stored on the shelves.

Proper food storage is important.

It is essential to store food properly in order to prevent spoilage and contamination. The health inspectors will check the food in your dry and cold storage for expiration dates and date labels. The inspectors will also check the way you store your food to ensure that you are using the right containers and arranging the items correctly on the shelves. Foods that are stored in the refrigerator must be placed from top to bottom, starting with ready-to-eat foods, then seafood, beef, pork, fish, and ground meats, and finally, raw and grounded poultry.

Common food storage mistakes

Health inspectors will check these common food storage mistakes:

  • The wrong order to store refrigerated food (raw poultry cannot be placed above other foods on the shelf)
  • Do not store food containers or boxes on the floor of the walk-in area
  • Stored foods must have labels and dates
  • Never use food containers intended for residential use in commercial applications.

How to Avoid a Violation of Food Storage Regulations

Train your staff to avoid violating food storage laws by labeling and using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) system. Foods should be checked daily, and any foods that are expired, spoiled, or incorrectly stored should be thrown away immediately.

  • Unstable Tool and Utensil Storage

Safe storage doesn’t just apply to food; it also applies to your kitchen tools and utensils. Clean, sanitized tools should be stored properly to avoid cross-contamination. Knives must also be allowed to air dry after being sanitized, which requires being held separately from other items with enough space for airflow all around the object.

Why it is Important to Store Tools and Utensils Properly

It is essential to store tools and utensils properly. If clean utensils are in contact with unclean surfaces, they may pass contaminants on to food. Air drying is required after washing and sanitizing. If you fail to air dry your tool, it can cause trapped moisture that encourages bacteria growth.

Common Storage Mistakes for Tools and Utensils

Keep an eye out for these common mistakes when storing and storing tools:

  • Storing clean cutting boards by stacking or laying them flat
  • Storing clean chef knives in a bin or drawer (chef knives should be kept in a knife stand)
  • Storing “in-use” utensils without running water (dipper wells need to have running water in order to remove food particles).
  • Drying utensils and dishes with a towel (all tools, knives, and containers must be air-dried)

How to Avoid an Unlawful Storage of Tools and Utensils

To avoid any storage violations, create an organized kitchen. Each tool and utensil should have a home. Teach your staff to air dry dishes and ensure they are aware of the location of all devices. To make storage easier, you can invest in shelving with tool organizers.

Poor Hygiene

Successful personal hygiene is achieved by performing the appropriate behaviors like Handwashing and avoiding bad behaviors like touching your face while working or coughing over food. Hygiene also encompasses staff uniforms and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, face masks, and hairnets.

Why personal hygiene is important

Your staff must maintain good hygiene to prevent a violation of the health code and ensure food safety. Your team may do something similar to an inspector if they have bad habits, such as not properly washing their hands and failing to change gloves at the right time. Poor hygiene is also a major contributor to foodborne illnesses.

Common Mistakes in Personal Hygiene

Health inspectors will closely observe your staff to ensure that they follow the following:

  • Not properly washing hands (employees are required to use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds)
  • Washing your hands at the wrong sink: Handwashing is only to be done at sinks that are marked with signs or posters.
  • Employee beverages are open in the workplace (employee drinks must be covered with a lid and placed only in designated areas).
  • Wearing watches, bracelets, or rings on duty
  • No Hairnets
  • Fail to follow the correct requirements for wearing a face mask (check local and state requirements in your area).

How to Avoid a Violation of Personal Hygiene

  • Create a program to teach your staff good hygiene habits. Follow up regularly with your team and provide them with clean hats and face masks. Make sure to give your handwashing stations special attention. They should always be stocked with soap and paper towels.

Poor Kitchen Sanitation

  • The overall cleanliness of your kitchen requires that work surfaces and equipment are wiped down and sanitized regularly. This includes all the visible surfaces and the not-so-obvious surfaces that are hidden from view.

Why Kitchen Sanitation Is Important

  • It is vital to maintain a clean kitchen because it is impossible to prepare food on unclean surfaces or equipment. Grease build-up on equipment can affect the taste of food and create a fire risk. You will attract pests into your kitchen if you let food particles accumulate on surfaces that are not visible, such as those inside equipment, underneath it, or behind it.

Common Kitchen Sanitation Mistakes

  • The health inspectors will look out for these signs:
    • Slime or mold in the bottom ice bin
    • Unclean soda fountain nozzles: All soda nozzles must be cleaned every day to prevent bacteria from growing.
    • Food debris and accumulation beneath equipment. (Sweep the area beneath your equipment every day.)
    • Grease accumulation on equipment
    • Corroded or rusted shelving units

How to Avoid Sanitation Violations

  • Implement a restaurant cleaning checklist to avoid a violation of sanitation. Your staff should be trained to follow cleaning protocols daily, weekly, and monthly. Place a particular emphasis on areas that are frequently neglected, such as your ice-machine bin.


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