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Retail Food Establishments Serving Meals Reports

BFRB Restaurant Inspection Process

A person who serves food to the public is required by law to first obtain a license from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection or its agents. These licenses are issued following a review of facility plans and menu and assuring, by inspection, 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 processes:

  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 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.
  6. 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 opened 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. Unlike a reinspection this is not required.



    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 Factors Point(s)

    The restaurant contains a self-service salad or food bar.


    The restaurant handles raw poultry, meat, or seafood.


    The seating capacity of the restaurant or operation is 50 or more.


    Food is served through a drive through window for food pickup.


    The restaurant promotes delivery of ready−to−eat food products to customers.


    Potentially hazardous foods are cooled, reheated, or hot or cold held for service longer than 4 hours.


    Food is prepared in one location and then transported to be served in another location.


    The restaurant contains or uses banquet facilities as well as main dining area.


    Food is served that requires preparation activities such as chopping, dicing, slicing, boiling, and blanching in order for that product to be served.


    * 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 handwashing. 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 handwashing, 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.