April 19, 2014

Saginaw County Michigan Puts Restaurant Inspections Online

Tables in a restaurantThe Saginaw County Department of Public Health has put restaurant inspection findings online for the public to see. That county joins many municipalities and states around the country that post results online.

There are 668 licensed eateries in the county. Inspections are unannounced and conducted every six months or twelve months. The inspection reports date back to January 1, 2012. Consumers can search by street name or address, or by the name of the restaurant. The Department of Public Health inspects restaurants, bars, night clubs, coffee shops, ice cream shops, and school and worksite cafeterias, among others. Low risk establishments serve non-potentially hazardous foods and are inspected once a year. Medium risk establishments cook and serve potentially hazardous foods and are inspected every six months or twelve months. And high risk establishments, with extensive menus and complex food preparation are inspected every six months.

There are three main categories of violations: priority, priority foundation, and core. Priority violations include those most likely to cause a foodborne illness, such as not restricting ill employees, failure to cook meats to a safe temperature, and presence of pests in the establishment. A priority foundation item is a provision in the Food Code that may cause a priority violation if not corrected, such as failure to provide hand soap at sinks and failure to use a food thermometer to check food temperatures. And finally, a core item relates to the general sanitation, including keeping walls, floors, and ceilings clean.

The inspections are not scored. A good report means no priority or priority foundation violations, no repeat violations, and few core violations. A routine inspection report is a few priority or priority foundation violations, no repeat priority or priority foundation violations, and a small number of core violations. Finally, a poor routine inspection report has several priority or priority foundation violations, repeat violations, and repeat core violations.

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