Statement on restaurant inspection reports from CRA president

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Statement on Restaurant Inspection Reports:

Effective enforcement of the rules and regulations for foodservice establishments by state and local health departments has given Colorado an excellent reputation as a safe place to dine out.  Health officials and restaurant personnel work together daily to ensure the safety of customers and employees.  Food safety is non-negotiable for restaurants in Colorado.  It is an obligation that they take very seriously.  If the conditions in a particular establishment pose an imminent health danger to the public, the health department will immediately close the establishment and keep it closed until its operators can correct the problems and keep them corrected.

Past health inspection reports can be misleading and may portray a false picture of actual, current conditions.  The reports are really just a “snapshot” taken during the time frame the health inspector was in the restaurant for an inspection, which occurs two or three times a year.  The public should be aware that sanitation conditions and practices can change many times within any given business day, depending on personnel, products used, time of day, customer demands, deliveries, volume of business, and an endless variety of other aspects.  Simply put, an establishment’s current inspection report may not be representative of the overall, long-term cleanliness of the facility.

If serious public health problems are noted during an inspection, health department regulations require them to be addressed immediately.  If serious problems are not noted during an inspection, one could occur as soon as the inspector leaves the establishment.  For that reason, the inspection reports available for an establishment may not reflect the current potential for the spread of foodborne illness.  Therefore, inspection reports should not be used by the public to determine the current cleanliness or quality of a particular restaurant.  Items noted on inspection reports as violations of the health code do not mean that someone will become ill by eating the food.  They simply indicate that the potential for foodborne illness exists if the problems are not addressed in a timely manner by the operator.

The Colorado Restaurant Association urges its members to work closely with state and local health inspectors to ensure that the food they serve is safe.

Peter M. Meersman
President & CEO
Colorado Restaurant Association