Health Inspector/Vegetable Stock
Why not chill it or keep in refrigerated? I've never met anyone that ever won and argument against a referee or a health inspector.
I'm calling the health inspectors' bluff. "If it's made from powder you can leave it out but not if from scratch".
Really? If that is the professional stance, I want to see where the inspector got that justification from. Is that a scientific answer? Based on what scientific analysis by which official agency?
If it needs to be refrigerated, then do so. But I would go to the main
office and demand clarification. This is the kind of statement health inspectors make that makes me livid.
Good luck with that, Chefwriter! Again, I don't think you can win an argument with the health department. Here in MN the inspector told me the brooms couldn't be stored on the floor. You'll note that the job of a broom is to sweep said floor. I just said okay and got a rack to hang 'em on.
As the owner of a restaurant I had the freedom to question the inspector and the regulations and did so whenever I deemed necessary. I am not in a position to do so working for others. But now that the topic has come up on this forum for foodservice professionals I will explain further.
Health departments are there to insure compliance with relevant regulations. The regulations are there to insure a safe food production environment. The inspectors do not get to invent regulations on the spot or interpret them in an ad-hoc, capricious manner.
The regulations were written by humans and compliance is enforced by humans. The Health department should expect and welcome intelligent questioning regarding the implementation and compliance of and with its' regulations. Any inspector who oversteps their boundaries should expect to be questioned.
Regulations, once enacted and put in place whether through actual scientific study or legislative fiat, are rarely questioned and never reviewed for relevance or updated to reflect contemporary conditions. To do so in any meaningful way involves review by a large bureaucracy not inclined to rock its' own boat.
As shown by the examples given in this thread, inspectors are often allowed too much leeway when interpreting what the regulations mean in actual practice. When this happens, it should be brought to the attention of Health Department management. Not angrily or with malice, but with an effort at furthering understanding on both sides with the goal toward better compliance.
As the specific process is most likely different in each state, I will suggest that if you are in charge of the restaurant's response to a Health Department inspection, you review the legal process for those times when you disagree with an inspection report. Here in NY, you have the right to a hearing to explain your side of things. VIsit your local office to make a professional inquiry about the process, if for no other reason than to simply see what kind of response you get.
All employees of foodservice need to be educated in the proper handling and serving of foods to prevent illness in the general public. The Health Department is there to make sure that that happens. But the process should be about education and compliance in a uniform manner, not by creating an atmosphere of intimidation and an arbitrary "Gotcha". It is far too easy for an inspector to cross the line and use his or her power to be a bully. When that happens, they should be reigned in quickly and a properly run Health Department should welcome the opportunity to do so.
But veg stock is perishable and should be held cold, IMO.
I am curious as to exactly what you mean by keeping vegetable stock at room temperature? Surely you mean some stock as part of the mise on a station and not the whole batch right? In the former case I am not sure about the laws in your state but in mine we have 4 hours to keep things in the danger zone legally. In the later case I'm sure this doesn't need explaining...
Chefwriter, would you really set up a legal hearing to avoid putting your damn stock in the fridge?
No. The stock should obviously go in the fridge.
What I want the inspector to clarify is the reasoning behind the statement that it can stay out if made from powder. Given that the stock is now a liquid at room temperature, there is still great opportunity for bacterial growth, even if made from powder. In order for the inspectors' claim to be true, there would be no nutritive value in the stock. Would the manufacturer back up that claim? Are they selling a product that has so little nutritive value that nothing will grow in it? If the stock has nutritive value, bacteria will grow. Allowing it to sit on the counter all day is bad practice under any circumstance.
Unless I hear scientific evidence to the contrary, the inspector is making it up. As stated, inspectors do not have the right to make things up during an inspection.
Most state food codes and regulations and not created by the States themselves.
Most are written as an interpretation of the FDA guidelines. One code can be interpreted probably 4 or 5 different ways.
I have jumped through hoops to keep things I know are wrong, but it is just not worth it to fight it. If you request a formal answer it will probably
move up the line to State officials who will remain adamant about their interpretation. We have a new inspector who is putting us through
the hat thing again. My Pastry Chef is bald and the inspector is requiring him to wear a hat. Then there's Mario who has more hair on his arms and
sticking out from under the front of his collar with no problem. I'm also not sure why servers don't have to wear hats. They come into contact with food
as much as my production people. Friday I was docked three points because my sanitation buckets were not on the floor. I asked about it .There was no way
I could understand her decision. She is Asian and speaks broken English. Said something about the buckets could dump over onto food stuffs.
She explained these cloths and not for cleaning machines. Wiping a surface with these cloths do not clean sanitize, they should only be used for wiping debris.
We have always had the buckets on a table away from production area and use them for wiping down most things. We use a Quaternary and always test.
This is usually the first thing the plongeur does in the mornings.I don't fight it anymore. The new inspectors have 4 weeks training which includes making
visits with other qualified inspectors.
The other day my wife called and said there was somebody new there and told the kitchen to put up the soup after service in sheetpans to cool. I told her
she must have meant 200 pans as we usually use. My wife said no, she said sheetpans. Go figure.
I don't worry anymore, I think the latest survey I read said that over 87% of all food borne illness originates in the home.
It's getting harder and harder to pay the city for my inspections. Supposed to be twice a year and now I pay close to $ 500.00 for the privilege.
I think health departments are too busy to allow the self examination that a private business needs to survive.
An inspection on a Tuesday will be different than on Wednesday by the exact same inspector in the exact same kitchen experience. They are defensive and flawed, but what really sucks is that when you go up the chain, it is just the same (state or county level). I understand the need for the regulations, but the consistency of their logic blows in the wind and the partnership in helping us to achieve can be demoralizing.
If you are on a hot line, there is always some sort of shelving below knee level where one could place a beverage.
Open glasses and/or cups are frowned upon.
Those water bottles or a sports cup with lid and straw work great while not getting the attention of the health inspector.