The Health Inspector and Your Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

In recent years, health inspections have properly transitioned away from “floors, walls and ceilings” and are now focused on the factors which can cause food borne illness. So how about your walk-in cooler or freezer? What will your inspector most closely examine?

organized refrigerator
Keeping food organized and properly labeled is very important.

Let me share with you a few key areas:

  1. Most importantly, are the units holding foods at the required temperatures? Temperature control is essential to limit the growth of disease causing bacteria.
  2. Is there sufficient lighting? This is important for the purposes of cleaning, product identification, rotating stock, etc.
  3. Is food up off the floor and on shelving? Floors are, for obvious reasons, always considered a dirty surface. If product is on the floor, and then placed on working surfaces such as work tables or cutting boards, then that is an opportunity for cross contamination.
  4. dirt on floor
    Dirt and food can accumulate in seams in the floor.

    Is the shelving of commercial quality and kept clean? Shelving needs to be durable and easily cleanable.  Food spills are common and need to be kept cleaned up as part of your normal sanitation program.

  5. Are the floors clean, dry and free of ice build-up in freezers? Cleaning of floors should be done routinely and they should be kept dry and free of ice to prevent slips.
  6. Are walk-in door closers in working order? If not, you may be allowing foods to warm up above the required temperature. Even if not, you are subjecting the compressor to unneeded run time and wear.  This is dollars lost.
  7. Do you have strip curtains installed? Although they are not required, I always recommend them to conserve chilled air. This results in dollars saved on energy costs.

Be sure to check with your health department and know your local requirements.

Jim Austin is a former health department manager and is now a food safety consultant based out of Denver, Colorado. To learn more about Jim’s services or to read his blog visit his website Colorado Restaurant Consulting.

If you are an expert in the walk-in industry from maintenance to refrigeration and would like to share your knowledge, submit your guest blog post to

  • James July 10, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Do you know any inspectors for a liquor store walk in cooler in Jefferson county ,Co, im in the process of purchasing a liquor store , Thanks James

  • Saber February 3, 2016 at 4:29 am

    interesting topic

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