ONTARIO: Unwise delay in food safety disclosure
Posted: April 20th, 2012 - 5:44pm
Source: Guelph Mercury
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has its survey results back on whether locals want easier access to the inspection reports it produces about food safety at local restaurants.
The audit has affirmed that people feel this information is of interest and import to them and they want it more readily accessible.
“We weren’t surprised by the responses to the public survey,” program manager Shawn Zentner, asserted in a health unit release issued about the research. “They just helped to define our next steps. People are interested in inspection results but we need to provide them with some education about the process. It’s not as simple as a pass or fail grade.”
While we appreciate the health unit is moving toward providing this data more openly, its disappointing that it’s forecasting a system with more disclosure surrounding this information will only come about next year.
We also think it’s erring by not doing more to immediately follow the lead of many other Ontario health units and make such things as whether and when local eateries were charged with food safety violations a prominent and searchable element of its website.
This has been a feature of many other websites in this sector for years.
Delaying something similar here, until at least January, seems terrifically puzzling amid these times of heightened interest and anxiety surrounding food safety and security. It also seems an odd stance for a public agency to take whose mandate is both to promote public health promotion and to enforce safety regulations within the local food service in industry.
In announcing its intention to offer a “disclosure system,” for this information in January, the health unit asserts it expects a majority of local food service operators “would voluntarily post their inspection results for staff and clients to see.”
Having restaurants provide this type of information on-site is a norm in other parts of Ontario as well and has been for years.
The health unit sounds like it wants to lead in this area. But first it needs to do some fast catch-up work.