Restaurant inspection disclosure: Build it and they will come

Baseball is sooooooooo boring.

But I’ll use any metaphor and pop culture reference to get people to pay attention to food safety stuf.

Even if it involves baseball.

The restaurant inspection disclosure web site in Nova Scotia – that’s in Canada – has been overwhelmed with hits since going on-line.

That’s normal. From Sydney to Scranton, the provision of restaurant inspection results is always a big hit with the public.

What’s not normal is the response from Luc Erjavec, of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, who said it’s no biggie and that the $325,000 the province spent to create the online database could have been used to stimulate the restaurant sector.

"Maybe we could spend a half million dollars stimulating our industry. Stimulating our industry would be a better way to do it."

OOOOOhhhhhhhh. Such sexy talk.

But, as the Herald Chronicle reports this morning, millions of people went to the Agriculture Department’s website in the days following its launch in October, Leo Muise, executive director of regulation and compliance for food safety, said Wednesday.

"The first week was what we consider to be an almost unbelievable response. It seems to be going over well."

On the second day alone, about 1.5 million people checked out the food-safety inspections of restaurants and other businesses. The numbers gradually dropped over the next few months and now about 1,000 people a week use the site to look up the records for several eateries at a time.

The Chronicle Herald published a series of stories in 2006 and 2007 that exposed deficiencies in Nova Scotia’s system of inspecting restaurants. The inspection reports obtained by this newspaper noted infractions such as rodents, unsafe meat and cross-contamination of food.

At the time, the department wasn’t in favour of creating public online access to a database of inspections and cited concerns that such a practice might be bad for business at some restaurants.

Now, substitute “hockey” for “baseball” in the video clip below.