November 1, 2013

Local health department aims to roll out online inspection reports in the new year

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Example of a color-coded placard that restaurants would be required to post under a proposed plan to make inspection results more public. 
Red means that the restaurant's health permit was suspended following a health inspection.

Photo provided/The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

Example of a color-coded placard that restaurants would be required to post under a proposed plan to make inspection results more public. Red means that the restaurant's health permit was suspended following a health inspection.

By Pamela G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess — Champaign public health officials are once again aiming for a Jan. 1 target date to post restaurant inspection reports online.

When asked about the updated plans, Jim Roberts, environmental health director, said the move is “in development”.

The “vendor needs to make our corrections and when completed, embed their content in our document, then test,” he responded in an email.

Earlier this week, the Champaign Urbana Public Health District and the Champaign County Board of Health held a study session to discuss a year-old proposal to better inform diners of health inspection results.

The proposal requires restaurant owners and food vendors to post one of three color-coded placards based on health inspection results – green, yellow or red.

As of now, there is no such requirement and the proposal would require an ordinance change by the county and the public health district.

Public health officials have discussed publicizing reports for the past four years as well as posting full inspection reports online.

As a continued service, CU-CitizenAccess posts the full report of all failed health inspection, including score, here.

Roberts said last year that plans to post full inspections online were near completion.

The public health district now posts a single list each month citing all the food establishments inspected and one of three statuses – “general compliance”, “re-inspection required” and “suspended.”

A “re-inspection required” status means that the food establishment failed its health inspection but was allowed to remain open; “suspended” means the health permit was suspended and the food establishment was temporarily closed.

Only one Champaign-area health permit was suspended in September, according to inspection records.

Drury Inn & Suites,  905 W. Anthony Dr., Champaign, lost its health permit on Sept. 10. Inspectors conducted a plan review site visit for the hotel’s newly remodeled kitchen and found the hotel serving food without final approval from the health district.

Inspectors also cited the hotel for seven critical violations, including food cooked the previous night out of temperature and stored in a walk-in cooler and potentially hazardous foods such as waffle batter, yogurt, ham and cheese were not under mechanical refrigeration.

The hotel was allowed to continue to serve a continental breakfast but no other prepared foods until it received final approval.

The hotel regained its health permit after a subsequent health inspection the next day.

Jersey Mike’s Subs, 508 E. Green St., Champaign, failed its health inspection with an adjusted score of 26 percent after inspectors cited the eatery for seven critical violations and two repeat violations.

Restaurants fail if they score 35 or below. If they score below zero they are automatically closed down. Restaurants with a failing score upon reinspection are also closed down.

Critical violations include deli meat out of temperature, an employee putting on gloves without washing hands first and flies along the cook lines as well as gnats/drain flies in the dish area.

CU-CitizenAccess files freedom of information requests for health inspection reports each month.

According to the health department’s website, two more food establishments failed health inspections in September: Smoky’s House BBQ, 1333 Savoy Plaza Lane Ste 8, Savoy, and Taffie’s, 301 S. Mattis Ave., Champaign.

However, CU-CitizenAccess did not receive these reports as part of its response from the health district and cannot report on violations found at the two restaurants.

We are working to resolve the discrepancy.