The Georgetown Independent (Ontario) reports that using provincial criteria, all food premises in Halton are ranked high, medium or low riskdepending on the type of food provided and to whom the food is served. The number of times each year that a food premise is inspected depends on its ranking. All food premises in Halton are inspected at least once per year, but some are inspected more frequently.
Public health inspectors’ visits to food premises are unannounced. During inspections, public health inspectors monitor and evaluate how staff handle, prepare, and servefood to ensure they use safe food handling practices and follow basic sanitation rules.
There are seven groups of food safety standards that a food premises must follow inorder to pass inspection including things such as proper handling, cooking, and storing of food, proper cleaning of food surfaces and utensils, proper handling of garbage, and general cleanliness. Of course, it is up to the food premise’s operator and staff to ensure that safe food handling practices continue after the inspector’s visit and throughout the year.
In addition to inspections, the Halton Region Health Department offers food safety training for staff working in the food services industry.
Public health inspectors also consult with operators and help them to develop food safety plans for their establishments.
To make sure that Halton residents are able to make informed choices about where they eat outside of their homes, the Health Department implemented the Dinewise program for restaurants and food take-outs in Halton Region. The main focus of the Dinewise program is to allow restaurants and food take-outs to make information about their safe food handling practices available to the public.
Since it began in 2003, the Dinewise program has been voluntary, but in 2005 a b-law was passed by Halton Regional Council to make the program mandatory for all restaurants and food take-outs in Halton Region. All restaurants and food take-outs must post a Certificate of Inspection and provide their Summary Inspection Reports when requested by patrons. Summary Inspection Reports outline whether a restaurant or food take-out is using safe food handling practices at the time of the inspection, and has met the food safety standards required by law.
As of July 1, Summary Inspections Reports from Halton’s restaurants and food take-outs are available on the Health Department’s website at www.halton.ca/dinewise.