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Food Establishment Inspections

The Racine Public Health Department acts as an agent for the State Department of Health Services (DHS).  State Statute 254.69 authorizes the DHS to enter into a written agreement with a local health department to act as an agent for issuing permits, making investigations, and conducting inspections of facilities regulated by the Food Safety Recreational licensing section (FSRL). Racine is one of 57 agents statewide. The Racine Public Health Department is responsible for licensing and inspecting approximately 595 food facilities in the City of Racine.

Who Conducts The Inspections You Are About To Review?

Restaurant inspections in Racine are conducted by Environmental Health Specialists (EHS). All Racine inspectors are state or nationally Registered Environmental Health Professionals. These professionals work with restaurant owners and managers each day to keep food safe from harmful bacteria, viruses, physical hazards and chemical contaminants. Environmental Health Specialists spend time during each inspection discussing the processes and measures taken in a restaurant to assure a safe product.

Racine Environmental Health Specialists perform other important services including:

  • Working with local public pool operators to assure a safe pool environment to swim in.
  • Working with local lodging operators to assure the public is kept safe from fire, injury hazards and pests.
  • Working with local tattoo artists and piercers to ensure a safe and hygienic environment.

Restaurant Inspection Process:

A person who serves food to the public is required by law to first obtain a license.  Licenses are issued following a pre-inspection to confirm compliance with food safety standards and practices.

Routine inspections during subsequent operation of the food service establishment assess the operator's success in ensuring that day to day operations are conducted in a safe and sanitary manner. These inspections are generally unannounced.

Risk Based Inspections:

Routine inspections are conducted using a risk based inspection approach.

The risk based inspection is conducted using the following process:

  1. Following the flow of food throughout the food facility.
  2. Observation and verification of proper food safety practices and procedures.
  3. Discussion and dialogue with the food service employees and management.

The inspection is focused on identifying risk factors and good retail practices in addition to providing education and information on proper food safety practices.

Risk factors– means the improper practices or procedures that have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through epidemiological data, as the most prevalent contributing factors of foodborne illness or injury. “Risk Factor” includes:

  1. Poor personal hygiene;
  2. Food from unsafe source;
  3. Inadequate cooking;
  4. Improper holding temperatures; and
  5. Contaminated equipment.

Good Retail Practices – means the practices or procedures that focus on general sanitation in the food establishment.

If deficiencies are observed during routine inspections, they are described in an inspection report with reference to a relevant section of the Wisconsin Food Code (WFC). Deficiencies that result in immediate health hazards to the general public are corrected immediately.

Keep in mind that any inspection report is a "snapshot" of the day and time of the inspection. On any given day, a restaurant could have fewer or more violations than noted in the report. An inspection conducted on any given day may not be representative of the overall, long-term operation of an establishment.

Inspection Types

  • Pre-inspection: is a type of inspection used for a new establishment or an existing establishment under new ownership. A pre-inspection must be completed before an establishment can be open for business.
  • Routine: is a complete risk based inspection covering all items in the Wisconsin Food Code. Routine inspections are conducted annually within the licensing year.
  • Re-inspection: is a type of inspection that is required when risk factor violations are noted on the routine inspection report and cannot be corrected onsite or when consecutive violations are noted on past inspection reports. Re-inspections are required to ensure that violations have been corrected.
  • Follow-up: Inspection is a type of inspection that is used at the discretion of the inspector to check back with the establishment operator to assure that violations have been corrected following a routine inspection.


Restaurant Complexity Categories

Complexity categories are used to evaluate the type of potential risk in the food establishment based on the type of food service activities as indicated in the chart below.

Pre-Packaged means a restaurant that serves only individually wrapped single food servings that are prepared and packaged off premise by a licensed processor with preparation on the premise limited to heating and serving.

Low(Simple) means a restaurant, whose point value equals zero.

Moderate means a restaurant, whose point value is at least one but not greater than 4.

High(Complex) means a restaurant, whose point value equals 5 or greater.

Determination of Restaurant Permit Category

Complexity FactorsPoint(s)
The restaurant contains a self-service salad or food bar.1
The restaurant handles raw poultry, meat, or seafood.1
The seating capacity of the restaurant or operation is 50 or more. 1
Food is served through a drive through window for food pickup.1
The restaurant promotes delivery of ready−to−eat food products to customers.1
Potentially hazardous foods are cooled, reheated, or hot or cold held for service longer than 4 hours.1
Food is prepared in one location and then transported to be served in another location.1
The restaurant contains or uses banquet facilities as well as main dining area.1
Food is served that requires preparation activities such as chopping, dicing, slicing, boiling, and blanching in order for that product to be served.1

* A restaurant that has been ordered closed by a state or local health department or that has caused a foodborne outbreak within the previous licensing year shall be included in the complex category.

Understanding Observations on the Inspection Report

  • Priority Observations: are those violations such as improper cooking, reheating, cooling, or hand washing. These violations are known to cause foodborne illnesses. Uncorrected priority observations usually result in a re-inspection.
  • Priority Foundation Observations: are those violations such as no soap or single use toweling available for hand washing, failure of the person in charge to properly train employees, not maintaining required documentation, labeling or records. These observations support or enable a priority violation and may contribute to a foodborne illness. Priority foundation observations will be reexamined during the next routine inspection.
  • Core Observations: are violations that usually relate to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures, facilities or structures, equipment design, or general maintenance. Core observations will be reexamined during the next routine inspection.