The Highland County Health Department announced Tuesday that inspections of restaurants and other businesses from 2016 are now available online, and health commissioner Jared Warner said there are a number of reasons why.
“Part of it is trying to make the public aware of how much effort goes into protecting the food supply,” Warner said. “Part of it is just an effort at transparency. As we do our work we’re trying to make that available to the public, if anyone is interested, because in the end that’s who we work for.”
Sanitarians from the Highland County Health Department conduct over 600 inspections a year at local restaurants, grocery stores, schools, festivals, fairs, and anywhere else food is made or sold in the county, a health department news release said, adding that staff at those businesses work closely with the health department to find the best ways to store, prepare, and handle food safely.
Warner emphasized that placing the inspections online is not an attempt to shed a negative light on any restaurant or other business.
“I want to make sure people know that there is no place in Highland County that me and my family would not eat at. If there were, they wouldn’t be licensed,” Warner said.
Food inspection reports have always been public record, according to the news release, but now it is even easier to view the inspection results. The online reports include all food, campgrounds, and recreational water inspection reports from 2016 and beyond.
“They will be updated every time a sanitarian gets back and puts a report together,” Warner said.
The reports are listed in alphabetical order and can be accessed under the “environmental health” tab at www.highlandcountyhealth.org. An explanation of the inspection process, as well as terminology, can also be found there. A detailed account of how to access the reports can be found on both the health department’s Facebook and web pages.
Warner said that restaurants and groceries where food is cooked, cooled and reheated are the highest classification of food service and are inspected at least twice a year, and sometimes more.
He said he would like the public to know that the inspections are a partnership between a restaurant or any other business and the health department, where both ask questions and try to improve what they do.
“Some people have the idea that we go out there with white gloves and try to find anything that we can, but that’s now what we do at all,” Warner said. “Mostly we just point out problems” then try to work together to fix them.
“The health department looks forward to continuing our ongoing relationship with local businesses to help ensure the safety of all food in Highland County,” the news release said.
For more information, contact the health department at 937-393-1941 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.