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    How is Your Health Inspector Relationship?

    In today’s regulatory environment, health inspectors are evaluating retailers on the efforts they are making to keep their consumers safe rather than what might already be wrong.  Inspections are no longer only intended to check for obvious potential dangers, but also to examine the procedures and standards in an individual business.  As inspectors are becoming more stringent in the way that they monitor convenience stores and other food retailers, it’s more important for owners and operators to develop a productive relationship with their health inspectors and be sure that they are staying on top of their responsibilities.

    Be Friendly with Inspectors

    There are several reasons why a health inspector might come to your store.  Whether an inspector is stopping by your c-store for a routine inspection or regarding a food recall or illness, you should welcome their presence and be receptive.  While some business owners can easily become defensive, a good relationship with the people who play such an important role in keeping your business open and successful is important.  It’s okay to ask state and local health inspectors questions while they are inside your convenience store, and most actually appreciate an operator’s interest in protecting the health of the public.

    Know What to Expect

    It’s a good idea for c-store owners to stay informed about the health codes, product recalls, safety procedures and expectations.  The more you know about food safety and regulatory standards, the better you will be prepared when you are being evaluated by a health inspector.  Health inspectors like to know that business owners are always keeping safety top of mind, rather than “putting on a show” when it’s time for inspection. If you show that you value food quality and safety by being knowledgeable, your health inspector will know that you are invested in keeping your business and products safe for consumers.  Also, make sure you are aware of your rights in health inspections and always feel comfortable engaging with an inspector while they are in your store.

    Communicate Effectively

    Besides being friendly and knowledgeable when a health inspector is at your c-store, you should also try to communicate openly with the agencies.  Businesses that engage with health inspectors in more of a cooperative and educational manner can better ensure that their inspections are a breeze and their customers are always safe.  Take advantage of the opportunities to reach out to agencies with any questions or concerns and always be transparent in your communication with them.  Again, agencies appreciate the businesses that want to be proactive.

    Be Engaged

    Don’t just limit your communication to conversations with agencies and inspectors, take a seat at the table with food-safety and public health organizations and officials.  As a c-store owner, it’s important to engage with other business owners and suppliers to exchange knowledge and insight, and to help guide regulatory changes.  Maintaining trust and transparency amongst c-store owners, vendors, and food safety and health agencies is critical in ensuring that consumers are safe and businesses are thriving.