By Eraina Hooyer
It has been said, ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’and that may be true when it comes to a recently released website launched by the David Thompson Health Region.
The website is currently posting the latest local restaurant inspections for eateries in Central Alberta.
As a province wide initiative, every health region is asked to post information of the inspections which can be accessed by visiting www.dthr.ab.ca and clicking on restaurant inspections.
Mike Hrycun, manager of Boston Pizza in Ponoka, has already had the local restaurant inspected and believes that the information being posted publicly on the website is virtually a positive resource for many people who wish to eat out.
“It really gives customers an idea of what the government is doing in accordance to food safety,” said Hrycun. “It’s not just rumours and people aren’t hearing the information second hand. I want to pass 100 per cent of the time, that’s a challenge” he said. “I would definitely use the website information if I was a customer.”
Restaurants are inspected three times a year on a random basis and each category is examined. A mark of satisfactory is given if the food-handling was up to standards and unsatisfactory if it wasn’t. The website will also say if the problem was corrected during inspection or not observed.
The inspection focuses on areas of food handling practices, temperature levels, food protection and general sanitation. If there are problems found during the inspection the owner/operator is asked to make corrections during a requested amount of time and then another inspection will be executed to ensure that the changes have been made.
Hrycun believes that there is a possibility that the information could show good restaurants in a unfavourable light that only made a minor error with food-handling when being inspected.
“The negative thing about it is that customers would see an infraction and maybe it was only a one time thing that was corrected during the inspection,” said Hrycun. “Even though it’s corrected it may still deter people from eating there.”
Owner of the Old Iron Horse, Gus Rachid, is pleased with the new website and feels that it will be a benefit to those who are looking for a restaurant.
“I think it’s fair enough,” said Rachid. “People should have an idea where they are going to eat and be able to have the information to allow them to pick and choose where they want to go.”
Rachid believes that the information will place some pressure on the restaurant owners who are not taking the rules and regulations for food seriously.
“It will make some restaurants get their act together,” he said. “I think it’s time that information like this is public, there are a lot of restaurants out there that don’t meet the requirements.”
Rachid does not see too many destructive results coming from this information but can understand that some owners who haven’t been keeping up with the standard may feel the aftermath.
“As long as the guidelines are the main thing I don’t really see any negative things coming out of this public information, except if an owner isn’t doing their job right they are going to face some
consequences,” he said.
Of the 38 food establishments in Ponoka 15 have been inspected so far with results posted online:
At least two restaurants were required to make corrections to the storage, display and transportation of high risk foods. One restaurant was corrected with high risk hot foods held at temperatures of 60 degrees celsius or greater. Hand washing facilities in one establishment was corrected during the inspection and in another establishment the protection of food from contamination was corrected.
One establishment did not have a valid food permit and another restaurant’s food permit was not observed during the inspection.
There are 400 inspections posted on the DTHR website that also include those resulting from complaints, routine monitoring and re-inspections of eating establishments that have been given unsatisfactory ratings in the past.