Inspections a matter of public record so you can know

ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times Shayne Byers, owner of Healthy Start Nutrition on Front Street, mixes a meal replacement shake for a client Wednesday. Byers’ business was one of the establishments in Marietta that had no violations at its last health inspection.

Whether your favorite eatery is in violation for mishandling and preparing food or consistently gets high marks for cleanliness is matter of public record, for those who care to know.

Sunshine Week, which began on Monday, is a national, non-partisan effort to highlight the critical role of open government and freedom of information at the local, state and federal levels.

Barbara Bradley, director of Environmental Health for the City of Marietta, said she has not received any public records requests for restaurant inspections since she started in the position.

“Not one. And I’ve been here since June 1,” she said.

Part of the reason could be that the public doesn’t realize they are entitled to this information. Or they don’t know how to go about requesting it. But finding out if that restaurant you’ve wanted to try has ever been in violation is as easy as calling the health department or stopping by their offices. Records are viewable at the facility or copies are available, both for free in a policy set by the Washington County Board of Health. Soon, finding the

information will be as

simple as clicking a mouse button.

“We are in the process of upgrading our system so this information will all be viewable online,” said Bradley. “We do roughly 25 to 35 inspections a month, so it’s a lot of information that is available.”

Violations can be classified as critical violations, which, if left uncorrected, are more likely than other violations to directly contribute to food contamination or illness. Examples include bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, poor time and temperature control of food and inadequate cooking, cooling or reheating.

Non-critical violations are not directly related to the cause of food-borne illness, however if uncorrected, could affect the operation of the restaurant and lead to critical violations. Examples include a lack of facility cleanliness and maintenance or improper cleaning of equipment and utensils.

Shayne Byers’ business, Healthy Start Nutrition at 216 Front St., got a clear inspection on Feb. 7. It was the third inspection since the business, designated a Retail Food Establishment, opened a year ago last November.

“They inspected us when we were opening, then at six months and then this was our annual inspection,” she said. “I didn’t even know the public could view this information.”

Byers said she found the process very easy in February and was pleased with the inspection results.

“We are a private membership nutrition club so we don’t have a lot of fresh food; we have mostly dry products and frozen foods,” she said.

The City of Marietta Health Department is responsible for inspecting 183 different types of facilities, including restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, vending machines and mobile vendors.

Patrick Christy, owner of 134 Bistro on Gross Street in Marietta, also said he was not aware the reports were public knowledge. The eatery, which has been open since March 2015, had one minor violation for a dirty range hood.

“The process went really well and we have addressed the issues,” Christy said. “We keep everything very clean and they were very helpful.”

Bradley said the information is available and the department is more than willing to provide the reports to the public.

“The turn-around time might depend on how busy we are, what time of year and how many records are being requested,” she said.

Marietta resident Jena Blair said that learning an inspection didn’t go well would probably impact her decision to try a restaurant or to be a repeat customer.

“If I knew a food inspection went badly, yes it would affect me,” she said. “If I really thought about it, I would probably never eat out.”

The Washington County Health Department also provides inspection reports for facilities in its jurisdiction. This information is also available for free to the public upon request. Officials said the inspections are not regularly scheduled but rotating inspections are done in the best interest of public health.

“During the month of February we conducted 48 Food Service Operation inspections, 16 Retail Food Establishment inspections, 19 Critical Control Point inspections and nine Process Review inspections,” said Josh Lane, director of environmental health for the county health department. “We have 176 food-related facilities in Washington County. These facilities consist of restaurants, convenience stores, vending locations and mobile food facilities.”

Lane said his department is working on different ways to make the information available to the public.

“We do not have information available online. We are working with an Ohio Department of Health program that will allow us to work with tablets and go paperless but we have not discussed making any of the inspections available online. It would, however, make fulfilling the records requests much easier and timely,” he said.

Requests for inspection reports are fewer than complaints, but that number is low as well, according to Lane.

“I used to work in Clermont County, which is near Cincinnati, and we would get 1,100 complaints a year. I was very surprised by how few complaints have been filed here,” he said.


City Health Dept. Inspection results from February

(Food Service Operations, Retail Food Establishments, Mobile and Vendor)

Name of business Number of Violations

Aldi’s None

Arbors of Marietta None

China Fun None

Double L Dance Hall & Saloon None

Healthy Start Nutrition None

Hickory Hills Processing None

Izzy’s at Andrews Hall, MC None

Junior Fair Building None

Legacy Cafe at MC None

McDonald’s on Glendale None

Norwood Tavern None

Peoples Bank Theatre None

Rinky Dink Flea Market None

Riverside 181 None

Selby General Hospital None

Smitty’s Pizza Marietta None

Womans Home None

134 Bistro 1

China Wind 1

Giant Eagle 1

Napoli’s Pizza 1

Walmart 1

Kroger 2

Phillips Gulf station 2

Warren’s IGA 2*

Go Mart 3*

Applebee’s 4

Shogun Sushi & Hibachi 4

Wings Etc. 5

*Includes critical violations

Source: Marietta City Health Department.

Washington County Health Department inspection results for February

(Retail Food Establishments)

Name of business Number of Violations

Jay’s Place None

Par Mar #4 None

Taylor’s Drive Thru None

That Little Cake Shop None

Newport IGA 1

Par Mar #7 1*

Dalzell Carry-Out 2*

Hensler’s Town&Country 2*

House of Wines 3*

Miller’s AM PM 3

Par Mar #33 3*

Turner’s One Stop 3*

Corner Store Corp. 4*

Sponey IGA 4*

Hickory Grove Country Market 6*

* Includes critical violations

Source: Washington County Health Department.

Risk level of food establishments

¯ Risk level I poses potential risk to the public in terms of sanitation, food labeling, sources of food, storage practices or expiration dates. Examples of risk level I activities include, but are not limited to: An operation that offers for sale or sells commercially prepackaged non-potentially hazardous foods and beverages.

¯ Risk level II poses a higher potential risk to the public than risk level I because of hand contact or employee health concerns but minimal possibility of pathogenic growth exists. Examples of risk level II activities include, but are not limited to: Cooking or baking non-potentially hazardous foods and beverages.

¯ Risk level III poses a higher potential risk to the public than risk level II because of the following concerns: Proper cooking temperatures, proper cooling procedures, proper holding temperatures, contamination issues or improper heat treatment in association with longer holding times before consumption, or processing a raw food product requiring bacterial load reduction procedures in order to sell it as ready-to-eat.

¯ Risk level IV poses a higher potential risk to the public than risk level III because of concerns associated with: Handling or preparing food using a procedure with several preparation steps that includes reheating of a product or ingredient of a product where multiple temperature controls are needed to preclude bacterial growth; offering as ready-to-eat a raw potentially hazardous meat, poultry product, fish, or shellfish or a food with these raw potentially hazardous items as ingredients; using freezing as a means to achieve parasite destruction; serving a primarily high risk clientele including immunocompromised or elderly individuals in a facility that provides either health care or assisted living; or using time in lieu of temperature as a public health control for time/temperature controlled for safety food, or performs a food handling process that is not addressed, deviates or otherwise requires a variance for the process.

Source: Ohio Department of Health.