KATIE FILION: Sudbury should make scores public, eh? Batta-boom batta-bing.

Last month while visiting friends in Sudbury, Ontario, we ate at East Side Mario’s restaurant – I love the unlimited salad and breadsticks. Though I didn’t have any problems with my meal, a patron who ate lunch at the Lasalle boulevard restaurant Dec. 30 did, and voiced a complaint to the Sudbury District Health Unit, according to the Sudbury Star.

"The patron complained about employees coughing on food, improper employee hand washing and a lack of hot water. A visit by the health inspector the next day didn’t reveal any violations, but it was recommended the restaurant review food education and handling practices with its employees. After a follow-up inspection resulted in a charge for lack of sanitizer in the mechanical glass washer, vice-president of operations at East Side Mario’s decided to close the restaurant. Employees from East Side Mario’s head office were sent in to help the local site return to company standards.

Though charges for the Lasalle Boulevard restaurant were made public it’s not typical of health and safety infractions in the Sudbury district. Here people must phone and ask about any problems at a restaurant or food store and receive either a verbal or written report about inspection reports, closures and convictions, said Stacey Laforest, manager of the health unit’s environmental division.

There are better ways to communicate restaurant inspection results than simply disclosing information to curious consumers who call in. Many health units in North America are making results available via websites, like the Toronto, Ontario website DineSafe (http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain); or mandatory posting of inspection score cards (in the form of letter, grade, color, or smiley-face schemes) near the entrance of premises. Increasing the availability and display of food safety information will raise overall awareness, and push food establishments to better themselves. The Greater Sudbury district could benefit from such disclosure methods. 

Katie Filion is a soon-to-be graduate student at Kansas State University who currently resides in Doug and Amy’s basement.