Ignore Dick: Portland posts all restaurant inspection reports online

There’s no one need to wait for the magical impacteur of government sanction to provide safe food.

Just do it.

While the U.S. state of Maine drags on restaurant inspection disclosure, the biggest city, Portland, has gone ahead and decided to post restaurant barf.o.meter.dec.12inspection reports online.

The change, announced Tuesday, follows a series of articles by the Portland Press Herald about the shortcomings of restaurant inspection programs in Portland and statewide.

Maine was one of just a few states where no state or local government agency put restaurant inspection information online for the public to review. The state’s requirement for each restaurant to be inspected once every two years is one of the least rigorous in the country; many states require two or more inspections a year.

Dick Grotton, president and chief executive officer of the Maine Restaurant Association, said posting inspection records online is a “bad idea,” because a restaurant can fail an inspection for a variety of reasons, many of which don’t directly affect food safety.

“If the public knew what the actual infraction was, they would laugh,” he said.

Grotton also said databases are difficult and expensive to maintain, which could leave a poor inspection result hanging over a restaurant even after the problems have been corrected.

I don’t laugh over people barfing.

The best restaurants in Maine, the ones that want consumers to knowingly spend their money at their establishment, will ignore Dick and publicize and promote their awesome food safety standards.

In August 2011, Portland hired Michele Sturgeon as its first full-time health inspector for the city’s restaurants. The city has since beefed up its inspection restaurant_food_crap_garbage_10program further, adding two part-time inspectors and more than doubling its budget, from $75,000 in 2011-12 to $154,000 in this fiscal year.

Portland’s inspection reports are available at pressherald.com andhttp://www.portlandmaine.gov/hhs/foodserviceinspections.asp