In the state of North Carolina, foodservice establishments such as restaurants, take-out or delivery food businesses, school cafeterias and institutions (hospital, nursing home, etc.) are to be inspected at a frequency that is determined by the complexity of the menu and the susceptibility of the population served. There are four risk categories with a corresponding inspection frequency.
The unannounced inspections are made by environmental health specialists employed by the local county health department.
Some of the things that are evaluated by the environmental health specialist during an inspection are employee activities such as food preparation and handwashing, how and where food is stored or prepared, food temperatures, cleanliness of equipment including eating and drinking utensils, condition and cleanliness of the building and surrounding premises. In evaluating the establishment the environmental health specialist must determine if there are violations present and if so, how serious is the violation.
Using a standardized inspection form, the specialist marks the violations and determines if the full point value or half of the point value will be deducted. Factors that influence a decision to deduct the full point value is the severity of the violation or if it has been deducted on previous inspections. If there is a potential for a violation or the violation is minor, the specialist may make a general comment, to remind the operator to keep the condition under control or take preventive steps to keep the condition from progressing to a violation.
To arrive at a numeric score and letter grade for the inspection, the total points assigned to the violations are deducted from 100 to give a percentage score. A two point education credit may be added to the percentage score, if there is a full time employee who has successfully completed an approved food safety training class. The letter grades are determined by the numeric score and are based on a 10 point scale. Facilities with an “A” have a score between 90.0 and 102.0, “B” grades have a score between 80.0 and 89.5 and “C” grades have a score between 70.0 and 79.5. If the score without the 2 point education credit is less than 70.0%, the permit is revoked and the establishment is closed.
Re-inspections are made for facilities with a letter grade less than “A”. When a grade less than “A” is posted, the operator of the facility may request a re-inspection after the violations noted on the inspection have been corrected. A re-inspection must be completed within 15 days if the request for re-inspection is for the purpose of raising the letter grade.