Inspection...ugh!! Long Sorry

Business By momma28 Updated 25 Apr 2009 , 7:14pm by costumeczar

momma28 Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 12:24pm
post #1 of 27

I am in the process of becoming an approved and legal home bakery in Virginia. I was told that I could expect to hear from the inspector 2 - 5 days after I submitted my packet to the Ag Dept. It took me a LONG time to get everything together. I had to retype all of my recipes in a very specific format with flow charts and labels. Make a scale diagram of my kitchen, a drawing of my property with markings for well and septic, and get a water test. The water test was $25 and I had to drive an hour in each direction to deliver it to the only lab within two hours. That after I had to order special sterile specimen jars from the local pharmacy and wait two days for them to come in.

I submitted my package on good friday and heard from the inspector for the first time yesterday morning at 7:30 am Yes you heard me right. I thought a relative had died when the phone rang that early LOL. He was very nice and asked if I needed a couple of days to prepare and I said "No, i'm neurotic about my kitchen being clean so anytime was ok with me, the sooner the better" He says he will call me at 3 to tell me if he can come at 4 and that if not today it will have to be Monday because he needs to draw the water sample...........WHAT? I said "did they not forward my entire package to you? I had a water test done" He tells me they did but he needs an "official" test. Now the paperwork from the ag department said specifically you need to get your own test because we will not be testing the water. I call the ag dpt office they say they have never heard of any inspector taking a second test but that he has the right to test anything in my kitchen. Great. This only bothers me because of the time, money and effort I expended gettting the darn test.

So I proceed to clean my already surgically sterile ktchen LOL ( I used qtips and rubbing alcohol in places you would never to think to use qtps and rubbing alcohol icon_rolleyes.gif ) He calls at 3:11 and says he cant come today (this was yesterday). and that he has to wait until monday so he can draw the water test and get it to the lab within 30 hrs. Ok, mind you he is super nice, not at all rude and really pleasent to talk to, lest I make it seem like he is unkind or rude. He then says that it would be great if I could have a sample of what I make ready to be checked for filth......FILTH...IN MY KITCHEN, the word just grosses me out. So I ask him what specifically they look for he tells me human or rodent hair (RODENT EWW) even lint from your clothing will show up and make you fail. Wow like I wasnt neurotic enough now I need to wear a moon suit to bake LOL And he says if I have a batch of brownies made he would take a sample of that too. I dont know if eventually he wants to sample every recipe I submitted...im a little confused now. Again NOTHING about taking samples is in any of the ag dept paperwork that they send you. It does spell out what you need to provide and what to expect and there is nothing about a second water sample or taking samples to check for filth. He did ask how many children I had and when I said 6 he seemed shocked and it was after that he mentioned taking the sample to check for filth. That could very well have been a coicidence but we have encountered people before who assume that when you have alot of children your house is a pig sty.

I'm frustrated and anxious now. But I will say this, if my kitchen fails than 90% of the restaurants in VA need to be closed. (actually several of my friends said this) I am freakishly clean in my kitchen (and the rest of my house but I am most obsessed about my kitchen). My oldest daughters had salmonella when they were little from chicken mcnuggets and ever since then I cannot clean enough in the ktichen, i am so fearful of food borne illness. On top of that I have all of my "business" items seperate from my household goods, Ihave a seperte fridge and an approved stainless steel work table for building and decorating my cakes on. The seperate fridge is not required but was stated as being suggested. There is no mention of work surface at all. I feel like I will obsess about this all weekend. I cant wait for monday to be over. He says I will have my approval by the time he leaves CANNOT WAIT!!

26 replies
Texas_Rose Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 12:56pm
post #2 of 27

It sounds like you will be fine icon_smile.gif I have a feeling he was making a joke about the brownies, maybe that's his favorite food.

I've worked in different businesses that have food inspections and the inspectors were always really nice. When I was a convenience store manager we (all the managers) used to have to go out and clean a store if it failed its inspection, and some of the things that I would see were shocking, so it's not too surprising that they have so many things to check for or that he didn't have a nicer way of explaining it.

springlakecake Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 1:08pm
post #3 of 27

I am wondering too if some of it was meant as a joke? Not that I have worked much in the food industry, but I havent heard of taking samples for testing before...unless there was some serious violations or outbreaks of food poisoning? I don't know, just curious

leah_s Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 1:28pm
post #4 of 27

I'm thinking it was a joke. Food inspectors, at least in my state, are absolutely forbidden from eating the food of the establishment they're inspecting, during the inspection. Think about it - a restaurant would just happen to have a box of prime steaks for the inspector to "sample" . . .

In training, we're told to not even offer the inspector a drink of water.

cakedesigner59 Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 4:33pm
post #5 of 27

Gosh, Momma28, you have me petrified! I am waiting for the NC inspector to call me back about my inspection (with a date and time) and up until I read your post, I thought it would be no sweat. Now, I'm wondering if it's worth the hassle!

costumeczar Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 6:10pm
post #6 of 27

I'm in Virginia, and I've never had them take a sample of anything that I've made. The inspector told me they do sometimes, I think it depends on the inspector. Don't worry about it too much, just make a sample of something easy and don't worry about the brownies! They just have to look at it to make sure it's not loaded with dog hair or something, and it sounds like you won't have any trouble in that area.

This is what will happen..He'll come in, look around quickly, ask where the sink is to wash your hands (the nearest bathroom), he'll go over your paperwork quickly, ask you about nay sanitizing solutions you use, etc. then he'll take the water sample if he's going to do that. After all that he goes out to the car, writes up your permit and you're done. It will be easy and painless, and you'll actually be a little irritated that he didn't inspect your kitchen closer since you did an extra-thorough cleaning for the occasion. The inspectors that I've met have all been really nice and they want to help you out, so don't stress all weekend!

KathyTW Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 6:24pm
post #7 of 27

I too was shocked at how little time was spent "inspecting'. The two gals came in, got out their thermometers and checked the temp in the fridges and freezers....asked if they could "puncture" one of my cream cheese packets to test the temp (I said "yes" of course!)....they asked about my dish washing procedures, made sure I had enough sinks for my type of permit (I have 5 single sinks and 1 3-compartment) and that was about it. They didn't look at my mixers, my tables, my utensils, or anything!

It was kind of a let-down, but was very relieved when it was over (less than 10 minutes!)

YOU"LL BE FINE !!!!! Good luck in your new business.

momma28 Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 10:25pm
post #8 of 27

Thanks for talking me down LOL icon_eek.gificon_biggrin.gif . I just can't wait until its over. The people at the Ag Dept office made it sound like no big deal but then the second water sample and the frozen cake sample through me off. Maybe I missed the joke on the brownies, he did say the inspection was close to breakfast and a stray tray of cinnamon buns and coffee wouldnt be a bad thing. I will be sure not to feed him though.

I hope that he takes the water test from the bathroom faucet. The state approved lab that I had to take my sample to said I couldnt take it from the kitchen because a swivel faucet can harbor bacteria. I thought I would want to know that to replace the faucet but we shall see. I took my faucet apart and sterilized the components with alcohol at the recommedation of the lab. Hope all goes well. I will let you know when its over. I have people waiting for me to be legal, a baby shower, bridal shower and a wedding so the sooner the better.

leah_s Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 10:39pm
post #9 of 27

Girl, your kitchen sounds cleaner than any hospital I have ever been in.

momma28 Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 10:44pm
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

Girl, your kitchen sounds cleaner than any hospital I have ever been in.




LOL icon_biggrin.gif Lets hope the inspector thinks so!

cakedesigner59 Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 11:08pm
post #11 of 27

OK, don't shoot me for suggesting this...but could he be hinting that he wants a "sweet" little bribe? Does such a thing happen?

costumeczar Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 12:33am
post #12 of 27

He was probably just joking about the brownies, and believe me, they don't need to be bribed to pass you on an inspection. Unless you live in a literal pigsty I doubt you'd fail. They'd tell you what to correct and come back again, they wouldn't just fail you and have that be the end of it.

I swear, when they did my first inspection I was SOOOO disappointed that they didn't look around more thoroughly. I almost wanted to invite him to look at the refrigerator gasket!!

If you have extra brownies, though, I'll take some icon_lol.gif

pugmama1 Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 12:43am
post #13 of 27

After reading all this I am a little uneasy. Why is he asking how many children you have? How about having another adult with you on Monday when he comes. I would think he would act a little more professional with someone else there.

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 12:54am
post #14 of 27

If you want to feel more at ease just take a stroll through some of the passed kitchens--yuk!

I helped a friend with a cleaning business clean a kitchen for an upper end fishing lodge that is inspected every year. I was SO grossed out by the accumulation all along the floor where the chef cooked. And the front of all the appliances was disgusting, obviously been that way for awhile. The crevices all along the backsplash had stuff on it that was unrecognizable. I couldn't stand it and sanitized the entire area where the guests would help themselves to coffee and muffins, I doubt it had seen a clean rag in years, sticky and sour. And this is a really nice lodge!

Or go into an inspected church kitchen that the whole congregation uses all week long. eeewww.

I am sure you will be fine!

cakedesigner59 Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 1:25am
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar


This is what will happen..He'll come in, look around quickly, ask where the sink is to wash your hands (the nearest bathroom), he'll go over your paperwork quickly, ask you about nay sanitizing solutions you use, etc. then he'll take the water sample if he's going to do that. After all that he goes out to the car, writes up your permit and you're done. It will be easy and painless, and you'll actually be a little irritated that he didn't inspect your kitchen closer since you did an extra-thorough cleaning for the occasion. The inspectors that I've met have all been really nice and they want to help you out, so don't stress all weekend!




What kind of paperwork are you referring to? The only thing I've bothered to get so far is my home occupation permit (from zoning). I don't want to spend $$ on a business license until I learn if my kitchen will pass. Should I have the business license first?

costumeczar Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 2:03am
post #16 of 27

I'm talking about the recipes and floorplans that you sent to them. They usually have everything in a folder with them and they look it over and ask you any questions about where things are and compare the floorplans with the actual kitchen, etc.

Nothing to worry about! I swear, unless you actively engage them in conversation, they never stay more than 15-20 minutes. I usually engage them in conversation, ha ha! You get some good information that way. They might stay a LITTLE longer since it's your first inspection, but I'm willing to bet that it dosn't last as long as you think it will.

momma28 Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 11:51am
post #17 of 27

"I almost wanted to invite him to look at the refrigerator gasket!! "

It is so funny you said this because when my husband came home the other night I made him look at the frdge gaskets, not that they are usually groos but who checks those things. I knew he wouldnt notice on his own LOL.

Also to cakedesgner59 My husband will be home that morning to occupy the kids while I am being inspected. I hate to even think that the number of children we have would be a consideration in his mind but people think your house must b dirty if you have that many children. We were looking at a house once that we were going to buy, i was pregnant with our 6th, the women opened the door, asked if this was my first I said "no, my other children are in the van waiting patiently, we have 6" and she said (I kid you not) "Oh wow six kids, I guess I didnt even have to clean before you came, your used to it being a mess!" I walked through that house and said to my realtor "She cleaned?, this is disgusting" so in her mind my house must be way worse than hers when I was grossed out by how dirty and dog smelling hers was. Its all about peoples pre concieved notions I guess.

Ok off my soapbox icon_smile.gif

cakedesigner59 Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 3:08pm
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I'm talking about the recipes and floorplans that you sent to them. They usually have everything in a folder with them and they look it over and ask you any questions about where things are and compare the floorplans with the actual kitchen, etc.




I apologize...I hijacked this thread and was asking about the paperwork (I'm not the OP). I don't have any paperwork...no one said anything about supplying recipes (I use mixes, LOL) and I didn't see anything about that in the guidelines I received from the NC dept of Ag. I do have my home occupation permit, which shows my floorplan, etc. Do I need to get my business license first? What if they tell me my kitchen isn't adequate for making cakes?

cakedesigner59 Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 3:21pm
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by momma28

"I almost wanted to invite him to look at the refrigerator gasket!! "




Okay, I'm an idiot...what is a refrigerator gasket?

terrig007 Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 3:27pm
post #20 of 27

It's the rubber part around the fridge. Also, NC may be different. Here in VA we have to supply our recipes even if you do cake mix doctor.
terri

cakedesigner59 Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 7:23pm
post #21 of 27

Thanks. I just heard (via email) from my inspector and she's coming MONDAY. Agggh. Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend. Anyone know where I can get a fridge thermometer? Do they sell them at Wally World?

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 7:31pm
post #22 of 27

When I met with my inspector before we started building the kitchen he gave me a handful of thermometers. He also gave me gobs of paperwork explaining everything I needed to know. Maybe if you call and ask them at the office they will bring you that stuff too?

DelectabilityCakes Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 9:01pm
post #23 of 27

I dread the day that I have to go through that but it's going to be a while before that happens. We'd have to move entirely out of the place we're in before I can go that route.

momma28 Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 1:02am
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedesigner59

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I'm talking about the recipes and floorplans that you sent to them. They usually have everything in a folder with them and they look it over and ask you any questions about where things are and compare the floorplans with the actual kitchen, etc.




I apologize...I hijacked this thread and was asking about the paperwork (I'm not the OP). I don't have any paperwork...no one said anything about supplying recipes (I use mixes, LOL) and I didn't see anything about that in the guidelines I received from the NC dept of Ag. I do have my home occupation permit, which shows my floorplan, etc. Do I need to get my business license first? What if they tell me my kitchen isn't adequate for making cakes?




I dont know about in NC. In my county in VA if you have gross reciepts under $2000 in one calendar year you are considered a hobby and therefore dont need to have a business license. Until I reach that level I dont need to go and get one (hopefully that wont be long) even then its just a very simple process of going to the zoning office and signing a paper saying that you meet their requirements (they dont even come to your house) and then you pay $20. Even though the state allows you to bake from your kitchen there may be a license required from the county.

costumeczar Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 11:56am
post #25 of 27

Virginia just passed a law that requires you to label any food processed in a non-licensed kitchen, so I'd check on that, too. Even if it's a hobby they might make you do that. You basically have to put a label on packaged food that says the food was prepared in a non-licensed facility, or make it clear to the peope who buy cakes that you deliver without packaging. Check to see if that applies to hobby bakers who are selling things, I'll bet it does. I think it's a state thing, not a county thing, so it would take precendence over any local laws.

I made a wedding cake for a woman who works in the inspections office at the health department, so if you can't find out I can dig up her information and call her to ask.

momma28 Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 3:21pm
post #26 of 27

I already knew this, but thanks for bringing it up. I had to send in with my packet a label for each recipe i submitted. I have to present the label for a cke which incorporates the labels for each recipe that is included in the cake. If I am making a tray of baked gooied same thing applies. List whats on the tray and include a label for each item. It seemed like it was going to be a pain but now that I have them typed up it will be no biggie to print them out.

The labels have to be done if your licensed or not. I will be a certified food operation by the state its the county license I dont have to have although I will get one because i am fairly certain that I will exceed the $2000 gross receipts for the calendar year.

costumeczar Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 7:14pm
post #27 of 27

My "source" (that sounds so sneaky) at the health department said that there's also an exemption from the labelling for large wedding cakes that you make and deliver yourself. If you have an opportunity to talk to the client and answer any questions about ingredients, and you're the one who delivers the cake so that you can answer questions then, you don't have to label anything. The inspector told me to just write the allergens that are in the formula on the delivery paperwork so that the reception site has the information if they need it, so that's what I do. Saves a little time...

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