County Conducted 938 Inspections of Food Establishments in 2013

The Franklin County Health Department has completed inspections of all local food establishments in 2013 following two prior years of incomplete inspections, an official said Monday.

After The Missourian reported in April that the county failed to inspect all food establishments in 2011 and 2012, officials vowed to inspect all of them in 2013.

The establishments were supposed to be inspected at least once a year, but there were only 186 inspections in 2011 and 368 in 2012, records showed.

In those years, there were between 460 to 500 food establishments in the county.

Getting all of the food establishments inspected in 2013 was a “huge accomplishment,” said Tony Buel, epidemiology specialist with the Franklin County Health Department.

He said there were 938 food inspections conducted in 2013, and that there are 463 food establishments. Some of the establishments were inspected more than once if issues were found on the initial review.

During the county’s inspections, only two establishments required closure, but they are both reopened now.

Buel declined to identify the establishments, saying he does not want to harm the businesses since they are now meeting requirements.

One of the businesses was closed because of poor sanitary conditions while the other opened too early without having the proper equipment in place, Buel said.

The inspections were conducted by two part-time and one full-time worker. Ideally, Buel said, it would be nice if the health department had three full-time inspectors. As of now, the county will have the same number of inspectors in 2014 as it did in 2013, he said.

Buel noted that the inspectors do more than just look at food establishments but also monitor child care and lodging facilities and help with water sampling and other environmental issues.

In 2014, the health department may step up some of the inspections.

Buel noted that the health department wants to inspect higher-risk food establishments twice a year.

Determining if an establishment is higher risk is based on factors such as whether there is a buffet, the number of people served and whether potentially hazardous or reheated food is sold, Buel said. For instance, a convenience store that sells packaged food would not be deemed high risk, he noted.

Just because an establishment is high risk does not mean it is poorly run, Buel said, adding that most restaurants are deemed high risk under the health department’s assessment.

The county health department completed its inspections, including reinspections, in the first week of December, Buel said.

All child-care and lodging facilities in the county were also inspected in 2013, and none of them had to be closed, he noted.