Inspections and Closures
Food inspections are conducted by Environmental Health Specialists, (EHS), who are trained public health professionals with science based college degrees. The purpose of these inspections is to enforce County, State and Federal laws, codes and regulations, and to issue health permits. During the inspection, the EHS evaluates the manager’s control over food-borne illness risk factors including food preparation, temperature of food during cooking, holding and storage, food handling practices and employee health and hygiene. The EHS also evaluates good retail practices including the condition of equipment and the physical facilities. The EHS then formulates corrective plans and implements interventions in non-compliance situations through education and enforcement. There are about 3200 regulated food service establishments.
Type of Inspections
ROUTINE: This is a comprehensive, unannounced inspection during which the EHS will evaluate foodborne illness risk factors, public health interventions and good retail practices to determine compliance with regulations.
RISK FACTOR ASSESSMENT INSPECTION: This is a specialized, unannounced inspection during which the EHS will evaluate foodborne illness risk factors and public health interventions to determine compliance with specific critical and non-critical sections of the regulations.
COMPLAINT INSPECTION: An inspection conducted in response to a complaint received by the Health Department. The specifics of the complaint will be evaluated and discussed with the person in charge. Complaints may be reported to the Health Department from the Community Complaint page or by calling 703-246-2444, TTY 771, during business hours, 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION: An inspection conducted for the specific purpose of re-inspecting items that were not in compliance at the time of the routine, risk factor assessment, or complaint inspection.
TRAINING INSPECTION: A scheduled inspection during which the EHS provides formal food safety training to the foodservice employees. Training inspections can be initiated by the Health Department or at the request of the foodservice operator.
PRE-OPENING INSPECTION: A scheduled inspection conducted to approve the construction of a new or remodeled establishment (or installation of new equipment) or to evaluate an establishment prior to a change of ownership at the establishment.
FOODBORNE ILLNESS INVESTIGATION: An inspection conducted in response to a report of a possible foodborne illness. A risk factor assessment inspection is always conducted in conjunction with a foodborne illness investigation.
The Department of Health imposes the following types of enforcement actions:
Suspension of permit to operate for imminent health
hazard: The permit is suspended and a directive is given to
cease and desist using unsafe portions of the facility or the entire
facility to ensure public health. A hearing is not required to suspend
a permit, but the opportunity must be given for a hearing after the
suspension is in effect. Grounds for closure due to imminent public
health risks may include but are not limited to:
- No water
- Sewage backups or overflows
- No utilities
- Pest infestation
- Contaminated food
- Foodborne illness outbreak
- Inadequate refrigeration
- Revocation of permit to operate: Food establishment permits may be revoked due to serious or repeated violations of any of the requirements of the Food and Food Handling Code of Fairfax County, Virginia. Prior to revocation of the permit, the permit holder will be afforded an opportunity to appeal the Health Department's decision. Whenever a revocation has become final, the holder of the revoked permit may submit an application for a new permit. However, prior to the issuance of a new permit the food establishment must meet all applicable provisions of Chapter 43.1 of the Code of Fairfax County, Virginia.