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@NCCapitol

Supporters say restaurant inspection bill badly worded

Posted April 5, 2013

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— Instead of receiving bonus points on their inspection grades for taking a food safety class, North Carolina restaurants will be docked points, starting next year, if they don't have managers with the necessary training.

Local health directors say a Senate bill that seeks to ease those requirements could compromise the safety inspections, but supporters of the legislation argue it's simply a misunderstanding.

Unannounced inspections help keep food establishments honest in North Carolina, but many health inspectors worry Senate Bill 482 could eliminate that element of surprise. A provision in the bill states establishments can't be inspected unless a certified food protection manager is on site.

"I don't think that was ever the intent of it, to say it was a way to not be inspected. That was never the intent of it," said Andy Ellen, president of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.

Ellen said the bill, which will likely be amended before it's voted on, is designed to protect 24-hour food preparers like Waffle House. Restaurant owners complained about new restrictions that penalize establishments without a certified food protection manager on site at all times.

Sandwich generic Bill would prohibit surprise restaurant inspections

"It's 3 o'clock in the morning, (and) the shift supervisor doesn't show up or you're trying to consistently train and have people pass that test all the time," he said. "(That) goes far beyond what the 2009 Food Code requires."

Most states allow some exceptions for establishments with clean inspection records or staff who have food safety knowledge but lack certification, Ellen said.

The bill does attempt to lower the qualifications and training for food protection managers, but Lynette Tolson, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors, said she was happy to hear the bill's intent is not to curb surprise inspections.

Tolson said she hopes her group and Ellen's organization can reach a resolution without the need for legislation.

5 Comments

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  • airbornemonty Apr 9, 2:43 p.m.

    I believe that health inspectors can be bought, not all, but some are.

    What I do is if I don't like what I see I will never return to that restaurant again. And this especially applies to restaurants that have a buffet bar, I stay away from them.

  • derftime2 Apr 9, 10:21 a.m.

    The funny thing (funny strange not funny ha ha) is that the FDA Food code which NC adopted allows for the person in charge to demonstrate their knowledge and specifically does not require certification..NC chose not to adopt that part and instead went the dirction of a ANSI certified examination.

  • southraleighbro Apr 9, 9:30 a.m.

    nice to see how the food is really being handled some places you go is still handling ready to eat food without washing hands like jersey mikes, and arbys to name a few without weashing hands when customers come intot he business to see theyre clean and safe to the extreme

  • HadEnough Apr 8, 2:07 p.m.

    I want to see the grades posted on the front doors.

  • mypack Apr 8, 7:19 a.m.

    Waffle House wanting no inspections? And no educated food managers? Go figure!