September 7, 2012

Publicizing restaurant health inspections: One local health official weighs in

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This week, Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde shares her thoughts on publicizing restaurant inspections.

CU-CitizenAccess has examined the health inspection process throughout Champaign County for the past year. 

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District conducts health inspections for every food retail facility throughout the county as well as within the cities. The county and city inspection ordinances are overseen by two separate public health boards.

Unlike trends across the country, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District does not require any food retail facility to publicize its health inspection results nor does the district do so on its website.

Since June, however, health officials began posting a single document each month that list every health inspection conducted that month along with the status of the food facility's health permit. The document does not contain resulting scores, rather a label that indicates the restaurant passed – "good standing" – or failed "reinspection required" – or shut down – "suspended". (See related story)

CU-CitizenAccess asked Julie Pryde, the health district's administrator, to discuss this issue.

 

CU-CitizenAccess: What are your thoughts on publicizing restaurant scores in a restaurant and/or online?

Julie Pryde:  "I think that publicizing the inspection reports is a good idea.  I think just publicizing a score may be misleading.  A restaurant score is not the same as a grade on a test for example.  There is more specific information that needs to be communicated."

 

CUCAWhat do you think is the best solution to bring diners information about the restaurant they are eating in?

Pryde: "I like the idea of having a mandatory posting in the restaurants where people can get more information through a QR code that links to our their actual inspection on our website or they can ask the manager for one right then (if the inspection is not already posted).  These options would both require a change to the C-U and County ordinances."

 

CUCAWhat do you think the next best steps could be/will be in doing so? The health department has said for the last four years that it will provide inspection reports online. Are there any additional goals along the way as well?

Pryde:  "We have taken some interim steps.  We are working with programmers outside of the Garrison Digital Health Department product that we use now.  We are posting inspection (status) on our website, and we are also getting the information out through C-U Citizen Access.  In September or October we are going to present our recommendations to a joint study session of the C-U and County Boards of Health."