Restaurant Food Inspections

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Food Establishment Inspections

Food establishments that sell or serve food to the public must get a permit and be inspected by the Health Department. These establishments include restaurants, espresso stands, delis, grocery stores, school kitchens, temporary events where food is sold and more. The purpose of the inspection is to assure that the food is being handled properly from preparation through serving. Inspectors observe kitchen workers’ food handling practices, inspect refrigerators and storage areas, take food temperatures, assure correct use of sanitizers and handwashing practices. Any problem found is written up on an inspection report, and the manager is taught the correct procedure or method immediately.

There are two types of violations recorded on the inspection report:

  1. Red critical violations” are those food practices that, when not done properly, are most likely to lead to food borne illnesses. These food practices include:
    • Controlling temperature: such as cooking meats to the right temperature to kill food borne disease germs;
    • Keeping food hot enough until it is served;
    • Keeping food cold enough;
    • Cooling food properly;
    • Washing hands and using utensils instead of bare hands on “ready-to-eat” food;
    • Proper food storage practices
  2. Blue violations” are primarily maintenance and sanitation issues that are not likely to be the cause of a food borne illness.

Each violation has a numerical value based on its risk of food borne illness. Therefore, there are more points given for red critical violations than for blue violations. Whenever possible, violations found during the inspection are corrected immediately. Red critical items found during the inspection must be corrected immediately. Examples would be putting a food into the refrigerator or discarding the food. Each inspection report has a total score based on the violation noted at the food establishment inspection.

Food Business Information

Permanent Food Establishments
If you are planning to open your own Food Service Establishment there are applications and information you will need. The Food Service Establishment Packet will explain the procedure and facilities needed for obtaining approval of your Food Service Establishment in Skamania County. An annual Food Service Establishment license will be issued once the establishment application is approved.

Temporary Food Establishments
Temporary food establishments are those which serve food at events such as fairs, farmers markets, bake sales, etc… The Temporary Food Service Establishment Information Packet and Temporary Food Service Application provide the information necessary for opening a food booth or other temporary food establishment in Skamania County. A Temporary Food Service Establishment license will be issued prior to the event.

Applications for Food Establishments:

Information for Beer, Wine & Distillery Tasting Rooms

Safe Food Practices

Cold Holding:

  • Refrigerated food to 41˚F or below (*except potentially hazardous vacuum packaged foods to 38˚F or below)
  • Frozen food to 10˚F or below

Cooking Temperatures:

Use a metal stem thermometer to check for the following minimum internal temperatures.

  • 165˚F – Poultry, food containing poultry, stuffed meats, stuffing containing meats and casseroles.
  • 155˚F – Ground, fabricated or restructured meats.
  • 145˚F – Eggs, Fish, Lamb, Pork.
  • 140˚F – All other potentially hazardous foods.


  • When you cook ahead or have leftovers, divide large portions of food into small, shallow containers and put them in the refrigerator uncovered.
  • Don’t cover foods in the refrigerator until they have cooled to 41˚F or below.
  • Don’t cool on the kitchen counter.


Potentially hazardous food that has been cooked and then cooled must be rapidly reheated to 165˚F or more within 2 hours (before serving or hot holding). Pre-cooked foods that have been prepared in USDA or FDA inspected plans shall be reheated to 140˚F or more within 1 hour.

Hot Holding:

Potentially hazardous foods must be stored at temperature of 140˚F or above during hot holding.


Foods must be thawed using one of the following methods:

  • In refrigeration units at 41˚F or below.
  • Under cool running water (less than 70˚F).
  • In a microwave, as part of a continuous cooking process.

Sanitizing Solution:

Add one capful (one teaspoon) of bleach to one gallon of cool water to make sanitizing solution. Store wiping cloths in sanitizing solution. Use this solution to wipe food contact surfaces such as counters or cutting boards.

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