Food for thought on health inspections

If you’re preparing to head out for a meal at one of Mesa County’s many eateries some time soon, start with this understanding:

None of the restaurants listed this week with critical violations during inspections by the Mesa County Health Department last year was shut down for health or safety concerns.

Critical violations, as we have noted before, can range from inadequate cleaning of food-preparation surfaces to food-storage locations that don’t quite meet recommended temperatures.

The vast majority of such violations can be corrected immediately. Others may require some additional staff training or oversight. Rarely do they present an critical threat to customers of the restaurants involved.

That doesn’t mean the listed violations are unimportant, however. Allowing them to remain uncorrected could lead to more dangerous violations. Call it the food-service version of law enforcement’s broken-windows theory: Fix even the small problems and you reduce the likelihood that larger ones will follow.

That’s one reason area residents should be pleased that, despite budget cutbacks, the Mesa County Health Department still has a robust food-service inspection system. Some 650 restaurants and other licensed food providers receive at least two surprise inspections from the Health Department each year.

In addition, the department makes records of those food service inspections readily available online to the public. Those interested can go to http://www.health.mesacounty.us, then to the “environmental health” tab. Under that, they can click on “online inspections” to search for individual restaurants by name or see explanations of the citations they received.

The county’s inspection system ensures that local restaurants and other licensed food providers don’t become complacent about food safety and sanitation. The fact that most of those establishments hit with multiple violations last year acted quickly to correct those problems is evidence that it’s working.


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