All Class B CFOs must have their kitchens inspected annually in order to receive their permit. Wondering how to pass your Inspection? Cottage Foods Sandie has some tips and insights to make sure there are no hidden surprises!
The main point of the inspection is to ensure that the public health is protected. That means checking that you have proper sanitation, safe food handling and storage procedures, and that the risk of contamination is minimized as much as possible.
To get an idea of what inspectors will look for, study the Self-Inspection Checklist required for Class A permit holders. When your inspection is scheduled, make sure your operation meets those guidelines. Get set up as if you were ready to begin making your product. Then, be prepared to walk the inspectors through your process, from start to finish. Though you won’t be expected to actually make the product, it will give them a clear picture of your operation.
Prepare your sanitizing solution in advance. The cheapest and easiest solution to use for surfaces and utensils is approximately a tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of water. The water should be warm, not hot. Hot water will reduce the effectiveness. If you have sanitizing test strips, the solution should be between 100-200 ppm. Cottage Foods Sandie uses a large shallow plastic bin in which her cooking utensils and baking pans can be submerged.
Pour out some of the solution into a small container for use sanitizing working surfaces. After washing and rinsing counters and working surfaces, sanitized with the chlorine solution.
The chlorine solution will looses effectiveness as it contacts organic material. Therefore your utensils must first be washed, then rinsed, before being sanitized and air dried. Be prepared to show inspectors how you sanitize working surfaces before cooking and how you wash, rinse, sanitize, and air dry cooking utensils after use.
Utensils should be in contact with the solution for 30 seconds or more before shaking off excess sanitizer and being allowed to air dry.
- Handwashing water must be at least 110 degrees F. If you are on a public system, you won’t need to have the water tested for bacteria or contaminants. If you have a well or private water supply, the water will have to be tested, but you probably did it prior to submitting your application.
- Be sure your bathroom (or whatever hand washing area you have in addition to the kitchen) has soap, hot water and clean towels for hand drying. The kitchen should have either paper towels (preferred) or hand towels to dry your hands. Know how to wash your hands (lathering hands, wrists, arms) and when you should wash them. Know when you need to wear gloves.
Food handling and packaging
Plan to talk the inspectors through your product preparation, showing them your utensils, where you store your ingredients, and how you package the food. Having packaged, labeled samples on hand for inspection is recommended by Cottage Foods Sandie. If there are any questions or issues, they can be clarified then. It just makes it easier in the long run!
- All pets, children, and smoking materials should be removed from the kitchen prior to the inspection. Activities such as smoking, eating, or household chores (laundry, meal preparation, diaper changing, …) must occur apart from the cottage food operation (preparation, packaging, storing). Have animals and children separated as you would if you were actually working, before the inspectors arrive.
- Ingredients and product must be stored within the home (not in a garage, storage shed, porch, etc.), where it is safe from rodents, insects, and animals. Cottage Foods Sandie uses different plastic bins with lids available from Target or Walmart to keep all nonperishable items (ingredients, utensils, packaging, final product, etc.) safe from harm and separate from everyday use.
Assuming that you know and follow safe food handling practices and can adequately separate the preparation, handling, packaging and storage of your Cottage Food products from everyday domestic activities, passing inspection for your San Diego Class B CFO permit should be no problem at all! Remember to get your food handler’s certification within 90 days of being permitted.
See, easy as pie!