Health inspector shortage an issue as Wake County's foodie scene grows

Posted November 8, 2018 5:37 a.m. EST
Updated November 8, 2018 8:16 a.m. EST

— Each Friday, 5 On Your Side investigates the latest restaurant ratings -- but what about the people who rate them? Officials say the inspectors who determine those scores are in dire need.

Many of us have been there -- you sit down at a restaurant and there is something in your glass or the utensils are dirty. Mistakes happen, but inspectors are there to make sure the restaurants we use are clean and handling food properly.

As Wake County grows, new restaurants are opening, and more inspectors are needed. There are only 35 food service inspectors in the county, and there are more than 3,000 Wake businesses that serve food -- from traditional sit-down restaurants to food stands.

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Officials say they need at least 40 inspectors to address the growing need.

Restaurants are inspected one to four times a year, and leaders say inspectors are swamped. The county recently increased the starting salary for health inspectors to make the job more appealing.

Leaders are also hoping to add even more positions to keep up with growth.

The work inspectors perform can be seen on rating signs near the kitchen at most restaurants. The inspectors also assess pools, hotels and nursing homes.

Minimal qualifications to start a health inspector career include a four-year college degree that includes at least 30 semester hours of physical or biological science courses.

You can learn more about becoming a health inspector on the county website.