Restaurant inspections available on district’s Web site

Published 6:19 pm Friday, June 18, 2010

For “real time” food service inspection information about Southwest Georgia eateries, just go online to Southwest Public Health’s Web site,

“Our 14-county health district is one of the first in Georgia to make our food service inspections available to consumers in real time,” said Decatur County Health Department Lead Environmentalist Ansley Johnson. “That includes Decatur County establishments. As soon as the reports are finished, they are available online on our Web site. It is instantaneous.”

Consumers can access the reports in several ways.

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They can choose “Health Departments” on the main page’s pull-down menu, select Decatur, and then click on “Restaurant Inspections;” or they can instead select “Programs and Services” on the pull-down menu and then choose “Restaurant Inspections.”

Once on the inspection page, searches can be conducted by using a specific date range; entering keywords; choosing an establishment’s name, address, city or ZIP code; choosing a letter grade; or by choosing the first letter of an establishment’s name.

“Each search will display the establishment’s most recent inspection, and access to up to five past inspections if available,” said Southwest Health District Environmental Health Director Dewayne Tanner. “To see what violations have been deducted, click ‘View Inspection.’ Then, if you want access to an electronic copy of the original form, click `View Form.'”

Each report has detailed notes of the inspector’s findings on the second page.

The new service has an added benefit for those traveling within the state but outside of their county, Tanner said.

“Clicking on `County Health Department’ takes you to a list of Georgia counties,” he said. “Those in blue have been added to the search engine, and you can click on them to check out restaurant scores there. As more Public Health Districts become part of the real-time on-line network, more information will be readily accessible to consumers.”

Tanner said the inspection process for restaurants, carry-out places, mobile food service operations and temporary food service operations is to ensure food is handled, stored and prepared safely.

“Food for public consumption has to be prepared in a permitted site. This law has been on the books for a long time, and it is for the public’s protection,” he said.

Even with local, state and federal regulations in place for commercial food handling, preparation and inspection, an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne disease occur each year in the United States, added Southwest District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

“The great majority of these cases are mild, with symptoms lasting for only a day or two,” Grant said. “Some cases are more serious. The CDC (National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths are related to food-borne illnesses annually.”