CANADA: Online restaurant health ratings positive: gov't
Posted: August 15th, 2011 - 10:34am
Source: Times & Transcript
An official with the New Brunswick Department of Health says restaurants in the province have become more vigilant in meeting and maintaining food safety targets since the province started posting restaurant inspection results online a few years ago.
"We're quite pleased with it," says Scott MacLean, executive director of the health protection branch. "It's increased compliance and how quickly operators comply with correcting violations. Other provinces have followed suit with what we've done."
The Department of Health started posting restaurant inspection results online in 2007 so consumers could see how restaurants fare in terms of food safety and cleanliness.
Restaurants are given a colour rating after review. Green means the restaurant has a high standard of compliance with no more than five minor violations. Yellow means the restaurants have a higher number of minor violations. Light red could mean one or more critical violations or several major or minor violations that need to be fixed immediately. A dark red rating would lead to a restaurant having its food licence revoked due to non-compliance.
MacLean says critical violations would include things that can directly affect food safety, such as problems with food temperature, cross-contamination, no hot- or cold-running water or food not being thawed properly.
Minor violations tend to be more structure-related and can include cracked floor tiles, a dirty floor or wall that needs painting.
In addition to the colour rating, the entire, detailed inspection reports can be downloaded so consumers can see exactly why a restaurant received a certain rating.
In the fiscal year 2008-2009, 20 restaurants had their licences revoked in New Brunswick. In 2009-2010, that number dropped to 10. In 2010-2011, the number was 11.
"We can attribute the decrease in revocations probably to better operator knowledge about our inspection requirements," MacLean says. "Operator knowledge is increasing in the province. We've done a lot of food safety training with our operators."
In addition to more training, restaurant operators have a clear incentive to stay on track since the public is able to scan each and every report to see how their favourites are faring.
The Department of Health's restaurant inspection page can be found online at http://www1.gnb.ca/0601/fseinspectresults.asp