Frequently Asked Questions

The Saginaw County Health Department inspects food service establishments.
Examples include:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Night Clubs
  • School Cafeterias
  • Worksite Cafeterias
  • Coffee Shops
  • Donut/Bagel Shops
  • Ice Cream Shops
  • Concessions
  • Rental Halls
  • Catering Kitchens
  • Private organizations serving the public

Establishments can be fixed, mobile or special transitory.

For information about retail food stores and food processors, such as grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries, meat markets, warehouses, and farm stands, contact the regional office of the Michigan Department of Agriculture or by calling (800) 292-3939. The Saginaw County Health Department does not regulate these establishments.

According to Michigan law, food service establishments are inspected as follows:

NORMAL inspection frequency: Establishments that operate year round shall be inspected once every six (6) months.

SEASONAL inspection frequency: Establishments that operate nine (9) or fewer months each year shall be inspected once per season of operation.

REDUCED inspection frequency:

Low Risk Establishments – Serve primarily non-potentially hazardous foods (coffee shops, concession stands, theaters, etc.) [Category X-Once every (12) months]

Medium Risk Establishments – Limited menu; cook and serve potentially hazardous foods (fast food operations, schools and bars, etc.). [Category Y – Once every (6-12) months pending inspection history of the facility].

High Risk Establishments – Extensive menu; complex food preparation such as cooking, cooling, reheating and involves potentially hazardous foods (full service restaurants, hospitals, etc.). [Category Z – Once every (6) months]

The inspections described above are “ROUTINE” inspections. One or more “FOLLOW-UP” inspections may take place shortly after a routine inspection to verify that violations have been corrected.

Routine inspections are typically unannounced, unless special circumstances warrant.

The standards for all food establishments in Michigan are set by the Michigan Food Law, Act 92 of 2000, as amended (Effective October 1, 2012). Food establishments shall comply with this law. View the Michigan Food Law.

The Michigan Food Law adopted the 2009 Food Code for the US Food and Drug Administration as the sanitation standard for all Michigan food establishments. View the 2009 Food Code.

There are three main categories of violations: priority items, priority foundation items and core items.

Priority and Priority Foundation violations are more likely than core violations to lead to contamination of food or to result in illness if not corrected.

Priority Item – A provision in the Food Code most likely to cause a foodborne illness.
Examples of priority violations include:

  • Failure to restrict ill employees from handling food
  • Failure of food employees to wash their hands when required
  • Food employees touching foods that are ready-to-eat with their bare hands
  • Failure to cook raw meats to a safe temperature
  • Failure to cool bulk foods cooked ahead of time rapidly
  • Failure to reheat bulk foods made ahead of time rapidly.
  • Failure to store refrigerated foods at or below 41° F and hot foods at or above 140° F
  • Cross contamination between raw (uncooked) and ready-to-eat foods
  • Failure to clean and sanitize equipment and utensils that come into direct contact with food
  • Presence of pests in the establishment
  • Failure to properly separate and store toxics

Priority Foundation Item – A provision in the Food Code that if not corrected may cause a priority violation.
Examples of priority foundation violations include:

  • Failure to provide hand soap at hand sinks.
  • Failure to label cleaners, poisons, and other toxic chemicals properly
  • Failure to demonstrate knowledge of the food code
  • Failure to provide food thermometer to check food temperatures

Core Item – A provision in the Food Code that includes items that relate to general sanitation, over all maintenance of the equipment and the facility.
Examples of core violations include:

  • Failure to keep the floors, walls, and ceilings of the establishment clean
  • Failure of food employees to wear hair restraints
  • Facility or equipment in disrepair

Inspections of food service establishments in Michigan are not scored.

The best way to judge the results of an inspection is to read the entire inspection report!

A good routine inspection report would have:

  • No priority or priority foundation violations
  • No repeat violations
  • Few core violations

A typical routine inspection report may have:

  • A few priority or priority foundation violations.
  • No repeat priority or priority foundation violations
  • A small number of core violations

A poor routine inspection report generally has:

  • Several priority or priority foundation violations
  • Repeat priority, priority foundation or core violations
  • Repeat core violations

It is important to remember that the presence of violations in a past inspection report does not necessarily mean that an establishment has the same violations today. Furthermore, large establishments with extensive menus will generally have more violations than small establishments with simple menus. This does not mean that large establishments are less safe than smaller ones. So when comparing inspection reports from different establishments, consider whether they are of similar size and have similar menus.

A food service operator shall correct all violations of the Food Code by the time allowed in the inspection report.

Failure to do so results in enforcement action such as follow-up inspection, office conference, informal hearing, limited menu, food service consultant required for oversite and training, additional food safety training of staff, temporary closure of the facility until compliance is achieved.