Food Inspection Process
Catawba County Environmental Health’s Food, Lodging and Institution section permits and inspects restaurants and food stands under the North Carolina General Statutes, § 130A-248, and the North Carolina Administrative Code, 15A NCAC 18 A, section .2600, Rules Governing the Sanitation of Restaurants and Other Foodhandling Establishments.
The inspection of these establishments covers sources of food, refrigeration, preparation, storage, handling, re-serving and display of food, shellfish regulation, milk products, requirements for employees, outdoor dining, storage, handling, cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils, drinking water fountains, storage and use of ice, water supply, toilet facilities, lavatory facilities, disposal of wastes, construction of floors, walls and ceilings, doors and windows, lighting, and other items.
The regulatory difference between restaurants and food stands lies in public access to restrooms. Where public seating is available, restrooms must be provided, and the establishment is classified as a restaurant. Where no seating is provided, restrooms must be provided only for employees. In most cases, food stands are smaller than restaurants however, the same minimum food handling equipment is required.
In the event of a utility interruption, facilities permitted by the Environmental Health Division may have to cease operation until service is restored. Read the Utilities Interruption Action Plan to learn about how Catawba County Environmental Health will respond to utility interruptions.
These are some of the things examined during a typical inspection:
Temperatures of the food are closely examined. Time and temperature the cornerstones of serving safe food. Bacteria grow in the "danger zone" between 45° F and 135° F, so the establishment must keep hot foods at 135° F or above.
Cold foods must be maintained at temperatures of 45° F or lower, except during necessary times of preparation and handling.
Food must be kept covered while in storage, and not stored on floors, or in direct contact with shelves.
Equipment must be maintained in a clean and sanitized condition.
An approved sanitizing method must be used on equipment and utensils.
An approved method of testing the solution used as sanitizer must be available at all times.
Hot water must be of sufficient temperature to facilitate the sanitizing method used, and must be of sufficient quantity to meet the operating needs of the establishment.
Employees must wear approved hair restraints while handling, preparing, or serving food. Waitresses who only deliver food to tables are exempt from this rule.
Hands must be washed thoroughly before beginning work, after visits to the toilet, and as frequently as necessary to remove contamination. Employees handling food must use antibacterial soap, or soap and a hand sanitizer, or shall use disposable gloves or sanitized utensils to handle food.