Inspections and Closures

PURPOSE

In Snohomish County, our health district inspectors conduct risk-based inspections. They work to educate all food establishment operators, their employees and the public in proper food handling procedures. Their goal is to help operators become active managers and stop problems before they occur. This preventative approach reduces foodborne illness and creates a safer food establishment for the public. 

Restaurant inspection reports are available online.

Food safety collage

FOCUS OF INSPECTIONS

Inspectors will focus their inspections on the food safety concepts that are most likely to lead to foodborne illness. Depending on the operation, these may include:

  • Managers and workers understand food safety concepts
  • Managers are ensuring that sick food workers stay home
  • Food workers are washing their hands
  • Foods are protected from cross-contamination, especially between raw animal foods and all other food items
  • Raw animal foods are thoroughly cooked before serving
  • Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods are held at proper temperatures
  • TCS Foods are quickly cooled
  • Barriers are used to prevent bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods by use of utensils or single-use gloves
  • All foods are obtained from approved sources

ENFORCEMENT POLICY

An enforcement policy helps to ensure consistency between all inspectors and provides better service to food operators and the community. The Snohomish Health District uses progressive enforcement for repeated violations through reinspections, developing risk control plans, office conferences and closures.

FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT CLOSURES

The Snohomish Health District food program protects the health of its residents by regulating restaurants in the county. We order a restaurant to close only when the facility violates certain health and food safety practices. A food service establishment may be closed for the following reasons:

  • Ongoing, severe, and repeat violations warrant enforcement action after an effort has been made to achieve voluntary compliance.
  • An imminent health hazard exists, such as a fire, flood, extended power outage, lack of water service, sewage back up, or a foodborne illness outbreak. If you experience any of these health hazards, call the Snohomish Health District at 425.339.5250. Your call will be forwarded to the appropriate inspector who will determine the next steps required to keep the public safe.  The inspector can also help the establishment decide which food is safe to keep and what needs to be thrown away before you reopen.
  • The owner/operator fails to inspect, maintain, and operate an on-site sewage disposal system in accordance with RCW 246-272A-0270.
  • A valid food establishment permit does not exist.

A restaurant closed due to serious violations of the food code may reopen only when reinspection confirms that all the violations leading to the closure have been corrected.