Flies and feces: Restaurant inspection disclosure goes online in London-lite

"What does (Powell) know about the actions of London politicians and the relationship of the city and the health unit? Probably nothing."

That was London-lite Councilor Harold Usher responding to my criticism that if London (in Ontario, in Canada) politicians wanted restaurant inspection disclosure in the form of colored signs on doors like the medical officer of health recommended 40 months ago, it would have happened faster. Just like it did in Toronto, all those years ago.

Sir, I didn’t just send my comments in by stagecoach from Kansas, I am from Brantford (in Ontario, in Canada), and have sat through numerous city council meetings involving board of health issues as both a journalist and participant in Toronto, Port Colborne, Welland, Guelph, and closer to London, Ingersoll (all in Ontario, Canada).

Coun. Susan Eagle, one of two people on the 11-member board appointed by city council, said,

"I was keen to move faster than we did . . . I’m disappointed it’s taken so long."

Jonathan Sher of the London Free Press wrote in Saturday’s edition that when London-lite restaurant inspections went online for the first time this week, so many diners logged on, the system slowed to a crawl.

Dr. Douglas Powell, associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University, said,

"I think it goes back to a lack of political will. London could have done this earlier if (politicians) wanted to. Is there anyone in London who will champion the rights of diners and people who buy (prepared) food?"

London Controller Gina Barber thinks Powell has a point — while politicians support the use of coloured signs, no one made it a priority or directed staff to get the work done by a deadline.

The Free Press coverage caused a flood of diners to call the health unit, where officials promised they’d soon post inspection summaries on a long-planned website.

I also told the reporter, the best restaurants will embrace public disclosure and even promote their food safety excellence.

How to use the inspection website in London:

Access at http://inspection.healthunit.com or through the health unit’s main website, www.healthunit.com?
Search for restaurants by region, by first letter or by keyword. Violations will be listed for each. ?
Click on restaurant names for dates of inspection reports, then on each date for summaries of violations and action required.?