Woo-Hoo. Inspections. Maybe.

According to sort-of informed sources, the Governor’s Office has wrangled 15 municipalities into the state’s Restaurant Inspection Database, and Harrisburg is one of them.

Here, if you want to read it, is almost the entire …

self-serving press release:

Agreements between the state Department of Agriculture and 15 municipalities and local health departments will improve the uniformity of restaurant inspecting and reporting in Pennsylvania, Governor Edward G. Rendell said today. For the first time, the restaurant inspection reports from local health departments, in addition to the state inspection program, are available at http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/pafoodsafety.

“We are committed to improving food safety in Pennsylvania to ensure the health of consumers,” Governor Rendell said. “By using the same system to conduct and report restaurant inspections across the state, we can provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions about where they eat.”

At Governor Rendell’s direction, the state Department of Agriculture invested in technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of restaurant inspections.

In 2006, the department began using the Garrison Enterprises Digital Health System, which gave inspectors tablet computers that enable them to relay their results daily to the state’s database. Since that time, the department has worked with local municipalities that conduct their own restaurant inspections to standardize the inspection processes and implement the Garrison Digital Health System.

There are currently 187 individual municipalities and health departments, which cover approximately 60 percent of the state’s retail food establishments.

Pennsylvania made public safety advances in 2004 with the creation of the Food Employee Certification Law – which requires all establishments to have at least one manager certified in safe food handling if they serve food that could make people sick if improperly handled. To date, more than 50,000 food establishment employees have been trained under this law.

“The food employee certification program has been a major advancement for food safety,” said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff. “Having well-trained employees at every restaurant who understand the importance of proper food handling, and can share those methods with others, is essential to ensuring public health.”

The department has proposed amendments to the 60-year old Public Eating and Drinking Places Law, Act 369, to better reflect current business practices, modern science and the Pennsylvania Food Code. Governor Rendell is encouraging the General Assembly to pass House Bill 1422, which will help prevent food-borne illness by improving Agriculture’s ability to enforce food safety regulations.

The Governor also supports standardizing the inspection and reporting process so that all eating establishments are inspected using the same criteria and the public receives the results in a common format.

Through House Bill 1422, the Governor aims to: –
– Make food safety inspections uniform across the state, regardless of jurisdiction.

— Make food safety inspection reports available to the public, regardless of jurisdiction.

— Increase fees and penalties for re-inspections and failure to meet safety standards.

— Require restaurants to have at least one supervisor or person in charge present at all hours of operation who has received food employee certification.

— Avoid duplication of inspections between state and local inspectors.

Consumers with questions or concerns regarding food safety and restaurant inspections in Pennsylvania may call toll-free, at 1-866-366-3723.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s Food Safety programs, visit http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/pafoodsafety.

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