State health departments entrust food health inspectors with inspecting businesses that prepare and serve food to ensure these establishments follow all federal and state laws pertaining to food preparation and service. Food health inspectors provide education to businesses about food safety and health. They investigate factories and restaurants, follow up on complaints from the public and fine or close food establishments when necessary. Joining the profession of food health inspectors involves awareness of all food laws as well as knowledge of how to inspect businesses to ascertain their compliance with these laws.
Ascertain the state requirements to become a food health inspector. Many states do not require their food health inspectors to possess professional credentials or any type of degree. Other states will only hire individuals who have training and an educational background as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS). Some states will hire food health inspectors who have backgrounds in public health or a health-related profession.
Investigate university and college programs that offer courses of study to prepare an individual to work as a food health inspector. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration guidelines, all food inspectors in the United States must prove proficiency in food sciences by demonstrating competence in the FDA Model Food Code guidelines. Coursework in health physics, industrial hygiene, biology, chemistry or occupational health provide an educational basis for individuals who wish to gain competence in the model Food Code guidelines.
Work as an intern in a government agency or business where food inspectors work. Work in tandem with a professional food inspector to learn the profession and develop professional contacts for later employment.
Pursue membership in professional organisations, such as the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. Professional organisations allow food health inspectors to develop professional contacts, to stay updated about advances in the field of food health inspection and to learn about new procedures and regulations that food health inspectors must know.
Apply for a position as a food health inspector at the state's health department. Other employment paths for a food health inspector may include working as an inspector at a food or meat processing plant, employment as an import inspector at a border crossing with the U.S. Customs Authority, working as a food health inspector for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or working with the state or federal Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
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