Alberta sets provincewide standards for restaurants and inspection disclosure

One year after a three-part investigation by the Edmonton Journal, Karen Kleiss reports this morning that the number of compulsory restaurant closures is up, health regions across the province have adopted minimum standards, and all Albertans can expect to have online access to inspection results by July 1.

Capital Health Authority spokesman Steve Buick, referring to lessons learned after last year’s complaints by the public and provincial auditor general, said,

"We think generally the system has served people well, but it needed upgrading in a few key respects, and certainly the disclosure issue is one of them. We get that the public wants to see more information. … It needs to be more transparent, and it will be."

Health Minister Dave Hancock has ordered all Alberta health regions to adopt uniform risk assessment and management standards, and he wants all Alberta health regions to come up with a plan to make restaurant inspection reports available online.

Robert Bradbury, director of public health for the Calgary Health Region, said,

"We will move as close to complete disclosure as we possibly can. It’s all about choice. The more information the dining public has, the better prepared they are to make that choice."

Another convert. Now, what is the most effective and meaningful way to communicate the results of restaurant inspections?

Last year, The Journal put a searchable database of restaurant inspections on the edmontonjournal.com website. It received more than 500,000 hits.