Posting food inspections is a good idea
Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2003
After you read the Virginia Department of Health’s posting of restaurant inspections (www.vdh.state.va.us), you may not want to eat out again – for awhile, anyway.
Restaurant owners might blanch at the new public report of their facilities’ shortcomings, but they would do well to forego complaining and instead get busy fixing the violations.
When it comes to rating places that serve food (catering businesses, restaurants and even school cafeterias), health department officials use two categories: critical or non-critical violations.
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The first type is more serious; untreated citations could lead to contamination or illness. Improper refrigeration or cooking are examples.
The second kind relates to lack of cleanliness or weak maintenance. The chances of food-borne illness is quite low, but if such violations are left untreated, they could obviously become more serious.
Take note that not everything posted shows life-threatening misdemeanors.
Gary Hagy, the VDH director of the Division of Food and Environmental Services, reminds Web surfers to find out exactly what are the violations of a particular restaurant, when the inspections took place, and what corrections, if any, have been made. In many instances, critical violations are often corrected on the spot.
Further, Richard McDonnell, director of government relations for the Virginia Restaurant Association, made an important point in reaction to the listings. His concern is not so much the inspection reports as a person’s ability &uot;to misinterpret or mischaracterize information.&uot;
So, before you march into your favorite restaurant with a printed copy of violations, be sure you read the report carefully.
Overall, as we see it, such a report still empowers the public when issues of cleanliness and food safety are concerned.