There are nearly 500 permitted food establishments in Grays Harbor County. The majority of these establishments have two unannounced inspections per year, while some establishments will receive only one unannounced inspection. Any food establishment may request a special educational session billed at the Environmental Health Division's hourly rate.

The purpose of inspections is to assure that food is being handled properly from preparation through serving. Inspectors observe kitchen workers' food handling practices, assure equipment is working properly, take food temperatures, inspect refrigerators and storage areas, assure water temperatures, and correct level and use of sanitizers. Problems found are cited on the inspection report and the manager is immediately educated on the correct procedures and methods. There are two types of violations recorded on the inspection report:

"Red critical violations"
are food handling practices that, when not done properly, are most likely to lead to foodborne illnesses. These food handling practices include:
  • Controlling temperatures, such as cooking meats to the proper temperature to kill foodborne disease germs, keeping food hot enough until it is served, and keeping food cold enough
  • Cooling food properly
  • Washing hands
  • Using utensils instead of bare hands on "ready to eat" food
  • Storing food
"Blue violations" are primarily maintenance and sanitation issues that are not likely to be the cause of a foodborne illness.

Each violation has a numerical value based on its risk of foodborne illness; therefore, more points are given for red critical violations than for blue violations. When possible, violations found during the inspection are corrected immediately. Red critical items found during the inspection must be corrected immediately. Examples include reheating food to 165°F, putting food into the refrigerator, or discarding food.