Health inspections are not easy

The field of public health inspection is not easy; it is a difficult job, yet gratifying. I remember inspecting restaurants that were notorious for non-compliance and trying to work with them to improve their food safety behaviors. I believed in quality inspections and not quantity as health inspections are essentially a snap shot in time and I wanted to make a difference.

Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t and it is frustrated when you feel like you haven’t made a difference. So I get the ideology of fines as a method to increase compliance.
But do fines actually work or is it the cost of doing business for some operators? What will the establishment look like in a month or two, did we influence change or not? I have done this in the past where I charged a facility for a number of significant non-conformance’s and they subsequently cleaned up, but a month later, they regressed to the same state that I initially found them. Our department did not have a risk-based approach at that time and so the operator wasn’t expecting me for another year…surprise…

It is all about behavior and behavior change.

The owner of an East Tilbury sandwich bar has been slapped with a fine of almost two-and-a-half thousand pounds.
The owner of Nancy’s Sandwich Bar has been ordered to pay £2,353 for failure to comply with food safety legislation.
Daniel Wood appeared at Basildon Magistrates on Monday July 24, 2017 and pleaded guilty to 11 food hygiene offences, following a visit by Thurrock Council’s food safety team in September last year.
Inspectors visited the premises and found a makeshift kitchen had been set up in a room previously used for storage without consideration to food hygiene or public safety.
As a result, the food outlet was rated with a ‘1’ on the Food Standards Agency’s food hygiene rating scheme.
But the owner has since made improvements and the bar’s rating has gone up to ‘4’.
The bar was fined £1,230 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and £123 victim surcharge.
Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Sue MacPherson said: “During the visit, the premises and equipment were found in a filthy condition, but I am pleased to see that improvements have since been made.”


New York restaurants cleaner than ever

The number of restaurant-related gripes filed with the New York City Health Department jumped 18 percent — from 7,312 to 8,653 — between the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. both years, the top complaint was rodents, insects or garbage overflowing or on the floor.

Other common grievances were about spoiled food (766), bare hands in contact with food (562) and broken toilet or lack of toilet paper (233). A half-dozen picky customers even complained about inadequate lighting.

Then there was the stomach-turning offense of a “foreign object” found in a food serving, which led 569 disgusted patrons to ask for inspectors to intervene.

In most cases, the “foreign object” was hair or a small piece of plastic.

Despite the higher volume of complaints, officials insisted restaurants are cleaner than ever as the city’s letter-grading system enters its sixth year.

On their initial inspection, 58 percent of restaurants earned an A in the most recent fiscal year — up from 37 percent in the first year of the grading system. Violations issued to restaurants also dropped — from nearly 213,000 in fiscal 2013 to a tick more than 196,000 in fiscal 2015.

A less punitive system ushered through by the City Council last year decreased fines by 18 percent — to $26.8 million — among the city’s more than 24,000 eateries.

“Over the last five years, restaurant letter grading has successfully motivated restaurants to practice better food safety. Restaurants are performing better on inspection and are cleaner than they have ever been,” said Health Department spokesman Levi Fishman.

Food safety whistle-blowers to get part of the fine in Taiwan

If Chapman could figure out a way to pay people, his #citizenfoodsafety would really take off.

In Taiwan, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is raising the reward for whistle-blowers and others who tip off the government to food safety violators, a day before a district court was set to hand down a ben.washingtonverdict in an edible oil case that has shaken confidence in locally-produced food products.

FDA Deputy Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) said that newly amended FDA regulations will allow anyone providing tips that lead to the discovery of violations to receive a 5 percent to 10 per cent cut of the fine imposed on the offender. The previous regulations only offered 5 per cent.

Do fines even matter? NYC councilor drafting bill to change restaurant inspection fine structure

A colleague at the vet college shared a story with me about restaurant grades a couple of months ago. He and his son went into a local sushi place and it was dead – they had no problem getting a seat during the usually busy lunch rush. He asked the manager what was up and she said that business had been down since they had been given a low score during a routine inspection.

That made him pause a bit, they ordered lunch and ate, but hadn’t been back. I guess some folks do make choices based on posted restaurant grades.

In New York, inspections and grade postings have been a hot topic for the past few months – and as Doug wrote a few weeks ago, the requisite whining from both sides is a bit tiring.

In attempt to take the clean doesn’t mean safe statement to a more pragmatic level, NYC councilor Christine Quinn is (I think) trying to make the health department to refocus their fine structure away from clean infractions and focus on safety (but it’s billed by the New York Daily News as "shrinking penalties for citations that don’t involve food").

In my ideal regulatory environment fines would be based on risk to public health – and so would disclosure grades.

“They are definitely working on the bill,” said Robert Bookman, counsel to the New York City Hospitality Alliance, an influential new restaurant group. “There’s a universal feeling among the City Council that something must be done to rein in the Health Department.”

The likely legislative changes include shrinking penalties for citations that don’t involve food — problems like broken tiles and dented food cans, sources said. The legislation is also expected to waive fines for eateries that score an A after appealing a lower grade.

If, as expected, the bill clears the Council, it would need a thumbs up from Mayor Bloomberg, who hasn’t shown much of an appetite for overhauling the controversial system.

City Hall expects to bank a record $48 million in restaurant fines this fiscal year — a 50% increase from the $32 million collected in 2009, budget records show.

While the fine rhetoric is captivating, the biggest penalty to a restaurant might be a poor risk-based inspection grade.

A clean garden doesn’t mean a clean kitchen: Garden center fined for food safety breaches

My parents are big gardeners. When I was growing up, every spring I was dragged out to garden centers and plant nurseries while they picked out roses, bushes and other stuff. I’m not sure what else I wanted to do (maybe play road hockey or video games) but I didn’t want to be there.

Being a chubby, food-loving adolescent, I might have liked it better if the garden centers had food.

Tamar View Nurseries Ltd of Carkeel (that’s in the U.K.) has a canteen, but according the Plymouth Herald, their food handling isn’t the greatest and has cost them £21,000 in fines.

The case concerned eight offences discovered by Cornwall Council Public Health and Protection officers during routine inspections of the site. The owner was later interviewed under caution and questioned about health and safety offences in relation to LPG gas storage, working at height and food safety matters which included issues of cleanliness in the kitchen and cross-contamination of stored foods. The company’s food safety management system was also found not to be being operated correctly.

The prosecution said that the company had put the safety of public and its own staff at risk, due to breaches of health and safety and food safety law. But the court heard that the company had now fully taken on board its responsibility under food and health and safety law and had engaged a health and safety consultant to assist them in ensuring that the appropriate standards were maintained from now on. It had also appointed a new chef to oversee the improvement in standards in the kitchen.

The company also pointed out that until this time it had a very good record in relation to both food safety and health and safety and that no one had actually been injured or been made ill.

That they know of.

Cockroaches, vermin and band-aid: Brisbane eateries fined 200K for past food safety infractions

More than $200,000 worth of fines have been handed out to eateries caught breaching food safety laws in 2007 and 2009.

The Courier-Mail says court documents show in the past six months nine restaurants were found guilty in a magistrates court for the breaches.

Company Wheylite Australia Pty Ltd received the heaviest penalty, fined $50,000 after being found guilty of nine breaches relating to unsafe food practices and a vermin infestation during an inspection in October 2007. A conviction was recorded.

A&C Business Development Pty Ltd, which held the food licence for Ryutaro Japanese Restaurant at Sunnybank, was fined $29,000 for 29 breaches relating to cockroaches and poor food storage in June 2009. No conviction was recorded.

Hedz No.4 Pty Ltd, which held the food business licence for the Everton Park Hotel, was fined $25,000 for 13 breaches, including cockroaches in the venue between March and May 2009. No conviction was recorded.

Erinwell Pty Ltd, which owned the food business licence for Oasis Juice Bar in the CBD, was fined $20,000 after a Band-Aid was found in a carrot juice in June 2009. No conviction was recorded against the venue.