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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Standardization of Retail Food Safety Officers - Chapter 4

Table of Contents   |   Chapter 1   |   Chapter 2   |   Chapter 3   |   Chapter 4

FDA Procedures for Standardization of Retail Food Safety Inspection Officers

Chapter 4
Communication Skills


4-1 Application


4-101    Objective

4-102    Introduction

4-103    Dialogue and Discussion with the Person in Charge

4-104    Exit Conference

4-101 Objective.

Skillful communication is essential to the inspection process in order to effectuate needed changes by the person in charge. This chapter highlights the importance of communication skills during an inspection. Activities and responsibilities involved in a retail food inspection program require a person to speak and to listen effectively.

Many different types of communication skills and approaches are necessary and valuable during the inspection process. The Candidate shall be required to take the lead in communicating with industry personnel during all inspections and the standard shall evaluate the Candidate'S communication skills.

4-102 Introduction.

  1. The Candidate shall be required to make all introductions. A complete introduction consists of:

    1. Introducing all persons participating in the inspection;
    2. Presenting credentials or identification;
    3. Describing the purpose and flow of the inspection;
    4. Identifying and explaining to the person in charge that it will be necessary to ask questions about the operation during the inspection; and
    5. Explaining that this is not intended as a regulatory inspection and that there will be no written report left at the end of the inspection; however, significant findings will be brought to the attention of the person in charge. Where required by the jurisdiction, a regulatory inspection can also be made and a report left with the person in charge.:
  2. In addition to verbal and written communication, the Candidate shall also use the inspection process to communicate and demonstrate food safety concepts by example. Activities such as immediate correction of risk factors, focusing inspection activities on foodborne illness risk factors and Food Code interventions, proper handwashing, sanitizing thermometers before probing foods, and wearing the proper inspection apparel should be used to reinforce spoken and written communications.

4-103 Dialogue and Discussion with the Person in Charge.

The Candidate shall have a discussion with the person in charge to determine:

  1. If a HACCP plan exists, and if so, whether the person in charge understands the principles of the HACCP plan and is ensuring that the employees are effectively using the plan;
  2. What training is provided for employees and managers that is relevant to applying the Food Code interventions and controlling foodborne illness risk factors;
  3. Specific responses to key employee health related activities; and
  4. What Potentially Hazardous Foods/Time-Temperature Control for Safety Foods are on the menu and what production activities are ongoing at the time of inspection.

4-104 Exit Conference.

At the exit conference, the Candidate shall clearly:

  1. Convey and discuss in detail with the person in charge the inspection findings including:

    1. The compliance status of the food establishment describing each significant violative condition and, where appropriate, acceptable compliance alternatives,
    2. The response and plans of the person in charge for correcting violations, including a Risk Control Plan, and
    3. Corrective actions observed during the inspection. Such proactive food safety measures should be commended; however, the Candidate should use this as an opportunity to explain what might have happened if an inspection had not occurred and the corrective action had not been identified.
  2. Explain the public health significance of the foodborne illness risk factors and Food Code interventions, good retail practices, and the Critical Control Points which do not meet the critical limits as established in the FDA Food Code; and
  3. Demonstrate the ability to discuss and resolve issues that the person in charge might not agree with or clearly understand in a courteous and professional manner.



Table of Contents   |   Chapter 1   |   Chapter 2   |   Chapter 3   |   Chapter 4