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.
Fairfax County Health Department inspects about 3,300 regulated food service establishments in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. Find food establishment inspection reports.
What to Expect From a Food Inspection
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Inspections
- How often are food service establishments inspected?
Food establishments are inspected using a risk-based inspection system. Based on the complexity of the food preparation and the history of compliance, an establishment may be routinely inspected from one to three times per 12 month period. Other inspections may be conducted as needed.
- Are the inspections announced (scheduled)?
No. Virtually all inspections (except for pre-opening inspections and training) are conducted on an unannounced basis.
- What is a critical violation?
A "critical item" means a provision of the Code, that, if in non-compliance, is more likely than other violations to contribute to food contamination, illness, or environmental health hazard.
- Are there different types of food inspections?
Yes, there are several types of food inspections. Please see this list of food inspection types to learn more.
The Health Department 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 the Fairfax County Food and Food Handling Code.