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Who doesn’t like to go out to eat for dinner?

Think about it – every so often you just aren’t in the mood to prepare a dish, cook it, eat and then address the clean-up that follows. Sometimes, we just don’t have the stomach for all that.

Fortunately for consumers in Jefferson County, and the tourists the region attracts, the county health department is putting its food inspection reports online for everyone to see.

That has two benefits. One, the county health department is being active by going out to food establishments and performing inspections. Two, you are seeing your tax dollars at work and how those inspections are protecting you from harm’s way.

That is a great thing.

Food inspections are being conducted for everyone’s safety. Plus, it also gives us a glimpse into how our favorite establishments are operating, whether it is your favorite fast-food chain, a mom-and-pop restaurant, or a place that maybe you’ve never been to but have always wanted to try.

These online reports are very valuable in helping consumers make decisions about where they eat.

If you haven’t checked out the reports, you really should. The documents allow you to be able to see if dishes are being washed at the correct temperature, or if milk being used for ice cream is being kept cold enough or if there is a more serious issue at hand.

With roughly 400 restaurants and eateries in the county, the four inspectors are quite busy while diligently performing their duties. Included in the inspections are taverns, grocery stores, school cafeterias, farmer’s markets, grab-and-go retail stores, and mobile food trucks. Churches, festivals and all the public food events are included as well.

The reports date back to 2018 and the catalogue will grow as future inspections are added.

Why the inspections, you ask?

Food safety inspectors are working to ensure your safety and that potential foodborne illnesses from bacteria are prevented. Essentially, they want you to have a healthy, happy meal, much in the same line as restaurant owners do.

However, what consumers must take into consideration is that just because a restaurant or eatery is cited for a violation it doesn’t mean the end of the business. These businesses are given a certain amount of time to correct the issue and a follow-up inspection is performed.

Violations can also be as simple as black stains on a cutting board, a stopped up sink or freezers keeping food cold enough.

In Jefferson County, establishments are inspected up to three times per year, based on risk level and how the food is prepared in public. Higher-risk establishments are visited by health inspectors more frequently than lower-risk establishments.

The county also follows guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which requires employees working with food receive health department safety instruction before working in the field.

The goal is a healthy and happy dining experience, which is even greater than the food inspections.

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