Health Inspector/Vegetable Stock

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by drewjsph02, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. drewjsph02

    drewjsph02

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    Hey guys. So the health inspector just got on us hard for keeping homemade veg. stock at room temperature. This has never been an issue for us before (open 30 years) until today. She told us if we used powdered base to make the stock we could keep it out at room temp but otherwise it had to be kept under refrigeration. Anyone ever encounter this issue? Anyone devised a work around?
     
  2. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    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.
     
  3. chefgraz

    chefgraz

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    I'm in New York. They are crazy about temps and products that should be hot hold/cold hold. Bain it, bath it, hold it. Problem goes away.

    When making the stock, cooling it correctly is important man, you don't want to mess around. Do it right for the product as well the guest.
     
  4. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    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. 
     
  5. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Good luck with that, Chefwriter!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   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./img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif   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.
     
  6. alaminute

    alaminute

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    Second this, although I also agree that the reasoning is terrible.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  7. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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         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. 
     
    alaminute likes this.
  8. grande

    grande

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    Mad kudos to chefwriter for fighting the good fight. I wouldn't bother, myself. I don't think you'll win. Last place I worked at, we called to complain about the restaurant next doors' dumpster being unsanitary & the ONLY thing that happened was we got an inspection out of it. But I'm also a)much less familiar with the regulations & workings of the dept itself and b)a sous chef, not an owner.
    But veg stock is perishable and should be held cold, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  9. linecook854

    linecook854

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    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...
     
  10. markrmoore2

    markrmoore2

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    What state are you in? Also you do have a time window for anything being out of temp. Check with your state health dept. and try to get the actual book on their regulations. I've recently found out in Alabama catfish can not be on the menu as "catfish" unless it was farm raised in Alabama. Makes zero sense. I wish we could fight against them on the scoring system. Here it's by the numbers, a drink in the kitchen is 5 points no matter where it's located in the kitchen
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  11. someday

    someday

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    I'm confused, are you storing it at room temp or just keeping some out for service? If you are storing it at room temp I would stop and put it in the fridge. If you are just pulling it out in batches for service I see no problem. 
     
  12. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Chefwriter, would you really set up a legal hearing to avoid putting your damn stock in the fridge?/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  13. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    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. 
     
  14. panini

    panini

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    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.
     
  15. markrmoore2

    markrmoore2

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    Btw if you threaten to burn their house down, they start to dislike you and give you a shitty score on things that aren't against code, it's his"interpretation or judgement call" he did the same thing at a friend of mines restaurant. My friend is a professional heavy weight noxer. Inspector is 5'6" maybe 130. The boxers name is butter bean. I've been weighting on him to snap on home one day
     
  16. silver pantry

    silver pantry

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    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.
     
  17. markrmoore2

    markrmoore2

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    Anyone have a drinking glass solution for inspection, seems to be his major concern. As hot as it gets in the summer its just unhealthy to not stay hydrated, and you all know theres little time to walk away if any time at all. I'd love a solution to this for my crew.
     
  18. grande

    grande

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    Water bottles like bicyclists use or other forms of sippy cups. Usually covered beverages are kosher.
     
  19. chefross

    chefross

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    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.
     
  20. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't agree with the Health Inspector that it would be fine if it's made from powdered base, but still, I would still keep the stock refrigerated.