1. Weber-Morgan
  2. Environmental Health Services
  3. Food Services Protection
  4. Inspector Jargon Glossary

Inspector Jargon Glossary

Inspector Jargon Glossary




















Acceptable level: the presence of a food safety hazard at levels low enough not to cause illness or injury.

Adequate supply of water: water that is available at a volume, pressure, quality, and temperature that meets or exceeds the needs of the establishment.

Adulteration: something that has been added to or has grown in the food to contaminate it, such as mold, toxic cleaning chemicals, illegal additives, or pieces of metal.

Approved: acceptable to the regulatory authority based on a determination of consistency with principles, practices, and generally recognized standards that protect public health.


Backflow: the unwanted reverse flow of contaminated water into a potable water system. It can occur when the pressure in the potable water supply drops below the pressure of the contaminated supply and the two are linked through a cross-connection.

Bacteria: a living, single-celled microorganism that can live either independently or as parasites dependent upon another organism for life. There are many different and useful bacteria, but some can cause food spoilage and illness. Certain bacteria form protective spores which help the bacteria survive freezing, drying, and very high temperatures. Bacteria that cause disease are called pathogenic and bacteria that produce poisons are called toxigenic.

Bare hand contact: handling food with bare hands. Food workers must use utensils, paper, gloves, or other physical barriers to keep their bare hands from touching ready-to-eat food. This is to keep germs such as Hepatitis A virus and Norovirus that might be on the hands from spreading to food.


Critical Violations: violations of critical food handling practices and conditions, or existence of an environmental health hazard. These violations are marked with an asterisk (*) on the inspection report and in the food regulation. Many Critical Violation items are also Risk Factors.

Non -Critical Violations: low risk violations include proper storage of utensils and linens, adequate lighting, lack of refrigerator thermometers, and soiled food contact surfaces.

Chemical sanitizing: a method of reducing the number of microorganisms on a surface by exposing the object to a sanitizer for a specific period of time. Common sanitizing chemicals are chlorine, iodine, and quaternary ammonia.

Clean: making a surface clean to touch and free of visible debris or filth.

Cooling methods: the use of various effective methods to rapidly cool hot food safely. Hot food is divided into several smaller portions and placed in shallow pans to cool. Food is left uncovered or loosely covered during the cooling process. This method works well for foods like refried beans, rice, potatoes, and chili. Cooling foods should be kept uncovered, or loosely covered until they are cold. Stirring the food and using of ice is also effective.

Cleaning: the process of removing food and other types of soil from a surface. Surfaces must first be cleaned and rinsed before being sanitized.

Cold-holding: holding fresh, perishable, or cooked potentially hazardous food at internal temperatures of 41°F or colder to slow the growth of bacteria.

Consumer advisory: the notification to a consumer that a certain menu item, usually an animal product or un-pasteurized juice, is served raw or undercooked, or may be individually ordered to be served raw or undercooked, and may increase the risk for foodborne illness.

Contamination: the unintended presence of potentially harmful substances, including biological hazards (microorganisms), chemical hazards, and physical objects.

Critical Risk Factor: a requirement of the food regulation that, when done incorrectly, is likely to contribute to food borne illness, food contamination, or an injury or an environmental health hazard. Many Critical Risk Factor items are also critical violations. Critical items are marked with and asterisk * on the inspection report and in [WMHD] Health Regulation # 5, Food Sanitation Regulation.

Critical Control Point (CCP): the last step where you can intervene to prevent, control, or eliminate the presence or growth of a hazard in food. Loss of control of a CCP may result in an unacceptable health risk.

Critical Item Inspection: an inspection completed at an establishment to look at a specific problem that has come to the Health Department’s attention. Examples include effect on an establishment during a power outage or water main break.

Cross-connection: any physical link through which contaminants from drains, sewers, or waste pipes can enter a clean water supply.

Cross-contamination: the transfer of harmful substances or germs from one food product to another through splashing, dripping or direct contact, or contact with unsanitary utensils, equipment, work surfaces, or employee hands or clothing. On food service inspection reports, the term is most often used to indicate the spread of microorganisms from raw animal products to other foods.


Danger Zone: the temperature range in between 41°F and 135°F that allows bacteria in a food to grow rapidly.

Detergents: cleaning powders and liquids that work like soap.


Exclude: to prevent an ill food worker from working as a food employee and from entering a food establishment as a food employee.


FDA: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA Model Food Code: the set of science-based food safety guidelines for food establishments. Local, state, and federal regulators use the Food Code as a model to help develop or update their own food safety rules. [WMHD] uses the FDA Model Food Code to develop and periodically update. [WMHD] Health Regulation # 5 Food Sanitation.

Follow Up Inspection: an inspection done at an establishment with a number of critical or many on-going non-critical violations, or a combination of both. Also, follow-up inspections are completed to verify all violations have been corrected when a conditional permit has been issued. A $100 fee is charged to a food establishment for a follow-up inspection.

Foodborne illness: a disease that is spread to people by food or beverages. Historically called food poisoning, most foodborne illnesses are actually infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

Foodborne illness outbreak: two or more confirmed unrelated cases of illness resulting from a common food source exposure.

Food-contact surface: surface or utensil that normally touches food, or from which a substance may drain, drip, or splash onto food.

Food cart: a readily moveable non-self propelled vehicle that uses approved equipment and is limited to the cooking and serving of foods that are maintained at proper temperatures

Food establishment: a retail operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption, such as a restaurant, institution, school, mobile food establishment, espresso cart, temporary food vendor, child care center, pre-school, or deli.

Food handler: a person who works (with or without pay) in a food establishment and handles unwrapped food or may contribute to the spread of foodborne illness through contact with food products, equipment, or facilities. This includes persons who simply assist residents or patients in custodial care in institutional facilities and child group settings with meals.

Food handler card: a food handler training card issued or approved by a Utah local health department or district. [WMHD] requires a Child Care and Pre-school Food Handler card for food handling in child care or a pre-school setting.


Galvanized: a steel container coated with zinc, a metal that prevents rust.

Grease trap/interceptor: a device that separates fats, oils, and grease from wastewater.


Handwashing sink: a sink designated for handwashing only. Handwashing sinks may not be used for mixing cleaning chemicals or for washing food or utensils. Handwashing sinks must be located in restrooms, and in convenient locations throughout the food preparation and warewashing areas.

Hazard: a biological, physical, or chemical substance that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption.

Hazard, biological pathogenic microorganisms such as certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can get into food.

Hazard, chemical: substances such as pesticides or cleaning supplies that can get into food.

Hazard, physical: foreign objects such as staples, broken glass, or jewelry that get into food.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP): a prevention-based food safety system that identifies and monitors specific food safety hazards that can reduce safety of food products.

Health inspector or Licensed Environmental Health Specialist: county employees who conduct food safety inspections of retail food establishments. They are trained in food safety, sanitation, and in public health principles and methods.

Heat sanitizing: raising the temperature of a food-contact surface to kill pathogenic microorganisms. Many commercial dishwashers use heat to sanitize tableware and utensils.

Highly Susceptible Population: people who are more likely than other people to experience foodborne disease, and are more likely to suffer serious consequences because they are: preschool age children, older adults, or people with weak immune systems; and obtaining food from a facility that provides services such as custodial care, health care, or assisted living care settings, such as a child or an adult day care center, kidney dialysis center, hospital or nursing home, or nutritional or socialization services such as a senior center. Additional food safety measures are required in the regulations to protect these vulnerable populations.

Hot-holding equipment: equipment designed to hold hot foods at a minimum of 135°F or higher. Hot-holding equipment includes steam tables, chafing dishes, double boilers, and heated cabinets. Hot-holding equipment should not be used to reheat foods.


Imminent health hazard: a significant threat or danger to health because a product, practice, circumstance or event creates an inability to properly control the temperature of potentially hazardous food; a lack of water preventing adequate hand-washing, equipment cleaning, or sanitizing; an emergency situation caused by accident or natural disaster, such as fire, flood, earthquake, or building collapse; a sewage backup or sewage contamination within a food establishment; or onset of an apparent outbreak of foodborne illness, or extreme misuse of poisonous or toxic materials. Food service establishment must close voluntarily, or be closed by the Department if an imminent health hazard occurs.

Internal temperature: the temperature of the internal portion of a food product. The temperature is taken with a food probe thermometer.


Linens: fabric items such as cloth napkins, table cloths, wiping cloths, and work garments.


Microorganism: a form of life that can be seen only with a microscope such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, and many parasites.

Mobile food unit: an enclosed, readily movable food establishment such as a food cart or vehicle-mounted food establishment from which food is prepared and from which food is sold or given away.

Monitoring: checking, observing, or supervising in order to maintain control.


Parasite: an organism that lives in, or on, a host organism in a way that either harms or is of no advantage to the host.

Pathogen: a microorganism (such as a bacterium, parasite, virus, or fungus) that causes disease in humans.

Permit: the document issued by the regulatory authority that authorizes a person to operate a food establishment.

Person in Charge (PIC): the employee at the food establishment that is ultimately responsible for understanding the food safety rules and making sure the food safety rules are followed. There must be at least one PIC designated to be physically present in the establishment at all times of operation.

Pesticide: a chemical used to control pests, usually insects or rodents.

pH: a measurement of the amount of acidity or alkalinity present in food. The pH scale ranges from 0-14. Neutral equals 7. Number values lower than 7 are acidic, and number values higher than 7 are alkaline.

Plumbing system: the establishment’s water supply and distribution pipes; plumbing fixtures and traps; waste, and vent pipes; sanitary and storm sewers; and building drains.

Potable water: water that is acceptable for human consumption.

Potentially Hazardous Food (phf): a food that must be kept at certain temperatures to slow the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Potentially hazardous foods are often involved in foodborne illness outbreaks. They are usually, moist, high in protein, and have a neutral or slightly acidic pH, or have an epidemiological history of foodborne illness. Common potentially hazardous foods with a history of being involved in illness outbreaks include eggs, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, sprouts, cut melons, garlic in oil mixtures, and heat-treated (cooked) vegetables and starches.


Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food: food that is prepared including properly cooked, as well as raw, washed whole or cut fruits and vegetables. RTE foods are ready for consumption. Examples include:

  •  whole or sliced raw fruits and vegetables, salads, cooked vegetables,
  •  breads, crackers, pasta dishes, cakes, pies, tortilla chips, French fries,
  •  cooked pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos,
  •  sandwiches, sushi

Ready-to-Eat foods can not be touched by bare hands and fingertips.

Red (Critical) High Risk Factors: critical food handling practices that, when not done properly, are most likely to lead to foodborne illness. Red High Risk Factors include knowledge about proper food safety practices; employee health and hygiene; food source and protection; and food temperatures.

Regulatory authority: a federal, state, local, or tribal enforcement body or authorized representative that has jurisdiction over the food establishment.

Restrict: to limit the activities of a mildly ill food employee so that there is no risk of spreading a foodborne disease. The food employee may not work with exposed food, clean equipment, utensils, linens, and unwrapped single-service or single-use articles. For example, cashiering or cleaning the facility would be allowed.

Risk: an estimate of the likely occurrence of a hazard.

Risk factor: one of the broad categories of food handling practices that contribute to foodborne illness outbreaks, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The factors are:

  •  food from unsafe sources,
  •  inadequate cooking temperatures,
  •  improper holding temperatures,
  •  contaminated equipment,
  •  and poor personal hygiene.

Many High Risk factors are also critical items.

Routine Inspection: an inspection done at regular intervals throughout the year. These inspections are typically unannounced and are completed 1 to 4 times a year depending on the establishment’s risk level (Types of food, food processes, and number of customers served in 24 hours).


Sanitize: to apply heat or chemicals to a surface to reduce the number of microorganisms to an acceptable level.

Sanitizers: chemicals, such as chlorine bleach, that kill germs to an acceptable level.

Sewage: the discharge from toilets, urinals, basins, showers, sinks, and dishwashers carried through sewers or by other means.

Service animal: an animal that is trained for the purpose of assisting or accommodating a disabled person’s sensory, mental, or physical disability.

Single-use or single-service articles: items such as food service gloves, plastic ketchup bottles, paper bags, foam take-out containers, toothpicks, and food wrappers that are made to be used once only.

Size reduction cooling method: cutting large pieces of meat for cooling. Large meats, like turkeys or roasts, are sliced into pieces and placed on a tray. The trays are placed uncovered on the top shelf of the refrigerator until the food is cold. Food is covered when cold.

Spore: a very tough, survival form of bacteria that is resistant to heat and a variety of chemicals. Only certain bacteria can produce spores.

Symptom: how your body notifies you that you are sick. Examples of symptoms of foodborne illness include abdominal cramping, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and jaundice.


Temperature abuse: when potentially hazardous food is held within the temperature danger zone of 41°F to 135°F for an unapproved amount of time. Temperature abuse of potentially hazardous foods can cause the rapid growth of bacteria, potentially causing foodborne illness.

Temperature control: maintaining food at a specified temperature.

Temperature measuring device: a bimetallic stemmed dial thermometer, thermocouple, thermistor, infrared (laser) thermometer, or other device for measuring the temperature of food, and air temperature inside hot and cold holding food equipment. Because the temperature sensor is high in the stem of the bimetallic dial thermometer, dial thermometers should only be used for thick foods a food probe; instant-read thermometer should have a range of 0 – 200 ° F.

Temporary food establishment: A food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjuction with a single event or celebration. Temporary food establishments where ready-to-eat food is handled or portioned out must have a food service permit to operate.

Two-stage cooling method: the two-stage procedure to forcefully cool hot food safely. Stage 1 is to cool food from 135 °F to 70°F within two hours. Stage 2 is to finish cooling the food from 70°F to 41°F within an additional four hours.


USDA: the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Variance: a written document issued by the department that authorizes a modification or waiver of one or more requirements of the food rule if, in the opinion of the regulatory authority, a health hazard or nuisance will not result from the modification.

Virus: the smallest of the microbial contaminants. Viruses rely on a living host and do not grow in food. They are spread to food through poor personal hygiene, contaminated food, or contaminated water supplies. Viruses are the number one cause of foodborne illness.


Warewashing: the cleaning, rinsing, and sanitizing of utensils and food-contact surfaces of equipment.

Wiping cloth: a cotton cloth with finished edges. They are strong enough to be sanitized after each use and to be washed often.