Approximately 1 to 4 times every year, public health inspectors make unannounced visits to commercial kitchen and food establishments. They conduct their inspections in accordance with the latest health regulations and food handling requirements necessary to grade these establishments. How can you ensure compliancy year-round and prepare your commercial kitchen and staff for the health inspector’s surprise visits?

According to the NYC Health website, during the inspection, the inspector checks for compliance with the city and state food safety regulations and marks points for any condition that violates these rules.

Below are some ways to make sure your commercial kitchen and staff are prepared:

Know the Food Code Best Practices

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) publishes the Food Code rules, which is a set of best practices for state and local health codes. Supervisors and employees should study your local Food Code regulations and be up to date on any changes. For the full current list of the latest NYC Food Code rules, see:

Food Safety Training/Food Protection Certificate

  • All employees that handle food should have food safety training provided by the establishment.
  • Employees should be supervised by a supervisor with a Food protection certificate.

Keep Commercial Kitchen Clean

  • Clean grease, oil and food particles from all surfaces and equipment, including the floor underneath. Keep range hoods clean and grease-free.
  • Properly maintain all food surfaces.
  • Clean and sanitize all food-preparation surfaces after each use; remove caked-on food.

Store Food Properly

  • Food should be stored at the proper temperature in accordance with the Health Department temperature holding requirements.
  • Ensure equipment used for holding hot and cold food is working properly and use thermometers to monitor the temperature of foods in storage.
  • Track food taken from hot or cold storage, and record how long it is out.
  • Keep food separated by temperature and type. Avoid cross-contamination by separating potentially hazardous foods (like raw poultry) from ready-to-eat items (like salad mix).

Practice Safe Pest Control

  • Practice safe pest control by sealing all cracks, crevices and holes in walls, cabinets, and doors to prevent rodents, cockroaches, and flies from entering.
  • Store food and garbage in pest-proof containers.

Be Aware of the Most Common Violations

  • Make sure your food is stored properly to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Develop a daily Maintenance Checklist which includes a sanitizing schedule, ensure food is properly stored, etc.
  • Conduct your own internal inspection covering all the official inspection components and ensure that your kitchen is Grade A.

Please check out the NYC Health official website for valuable information on what to expect when you’re inspected at

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Disclaimer: Keep in mind, all information in this article is for general information purposes only and not as legal or regulatory advice. This article does not constitute legal or other professional advice, and no attorney-client or other relationship is created hereby. Do not consider the above to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your state or for obtaining regulatory advice regarding local or other regulatory requirements that apply to your facility. Significant local variances may apply to your facility, and requirements may change over time. This article is current as of its publication date and will not be updated for changes in law or regulations.