Monday, January 10, 2011

How Clean is Your Favorite Restaurant?

While waiting to pick up some take-out food from one of our favorite local restaurants last weekend, my eyes fell upon this most unfortunate sign in the window:

"Public notice
Upon last inspection this establishment 
with the acceptable sanitation standards 
of the Oregon Health Division 
of Sanitation"

A few questions came to my mind:
What?  Was I reading that correctly?
They're still in business?  Is that even legal?
Is my food ready yet?

Funny thing was, I seemed to be the only person who noticed the sign.  I happened to be waiting outside for my order, enjoying the crisp wintery air and the peaceful night.  There was a steady stream of people wandering in for their take-out packages, oblivious to this important public announcement posted right by the door.

When I got home my husband and I did some researching on the topic (over a plate of pad thai...hey we were still hungry!).  Here's what we learned:

Clean Eating
1. Unannounced inspections are done periodically to evaluate the sanitation practices of every restaurant.  The inspector pokes around the kitchen, observes the staff, and tests the quality of the food, its storage, and its preparation.
2. They earn a score for their cleanliness, with a minimum needed to "pass."
3. If  this minimum is not achieved, the restaurant must make appropriate changes within a certain time frame or risk being forced to close business.
4. A placard proclaiming the results of their most recent inspection must be posted for all to see.
5. Recent inspection results are available to the public, and includes detailed accounts of any violations.
6. You can look up restaurants online!  Not for the faint of heart, er, stomach.  You risk reading some unsavory details about what goes on behind the counter at your frequented eateries.

Here are the sites for curious Portlanders:
Multnomah County
Washington County
Clackamas County

To find the website for restaurants in your area just search Google for "your county" plus "restaurant health inspection"

It's a good thing we finished our food before reading too far, because although the meal was tasty, the reviews were pretty unappetizing.  Don't think we'll be eating there again...

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