The Cowichan Valley Citizen reports that residents of the Central and Northern parts of Vancouver Island can now check the results of health inspections of their favourite local eatery online.
In 2002 Victoria area inspections were the first to be viewed on line and now, with this roll out of the program from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, people across the Island have access to the findings of health inspections of all food service establishments plus other information about food safety.
The site includes an explanation of what environmental health inspectors are looking for when they inspect a restaurant, pub or cafeteria, and why a facility received a “low”, “moderate” or “high” hazard rating.
Summary findings of inspections for restaurants or food stores, dating back to Jan. 1, 2005, are available for Central and North Island.
Detailed inspection information and comments can be found beginning Dec. 1, 2005.
Dr. Richard Stanwick, VIHA’s Chief Medical Health Officer, praised the food service industry in the region for its dedication to ensuring the safety and health of their customers. “Generally fewer than one per cent of the inspections we conduct result in a high hazard rating,” he noted, “and those that do are usually rapidly corrected by owners and operators.”
He said one reason for the excellent record was that food service industry workers in the region have now been trained in safe foodhandling procedures through the FoodSafe course.
David Coombe, Supervisor, Environmental Health Services in Nanaimo, stressed that a specific hazard rating for a facility is a snapshot of the restaurant at one moment in time, and is not necessarily reflective of its longer-term performance.
Conditions often change, sometimes drastically, over a period of weeks or even days, he noted.
Coombe said information will be posted to the site as soon as possible after the inspection of a restaurant, most often within a few days.
Information on the site includes tips for the public on food safety practices at home.
More than half of all foodborne illnesses come from the way people handle food themselves, be it home-prepared meals, take-out food from restaurants, or even doggie-bags of restaurant leftovers.
The most common problem is leaving food unrefrigerated for hours before eating it, giving disease-causing organisms an ideal opportunity to grow and multiply.
Food facility inspection information can be accessed through the Medical Health Officer’s website at: http://www.viha.ca/mho/food/inspections.htmS