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Health Unit website a public glimpse into inspection reports

Check-FirstFood safety inspection reports for public food premises in Hastings and Prince Edward counties can now be viewed online.  The Health Unit’s “Check F.I.R.S.T.” (Facility Inspection Reporting SysTem) website has been designed to give the public access to dates of compliance reports and infractions.

The Health Unit, in a statement, said the number of reports posted on the website will depend on the category of risk for the food premises.  In general, the risk is based on the type of foods served, the amount of handling during preparation or the people to which the food is served.  High risk food premises are inspected three times a year, medium risk two times a year and low risk once a year.

A high risk food premises often has a menu with many different dishes including starters, entrees and desserts which means more food handling, which increases the risk for a foodborne illness. A high risk facility could also serve a group of people who are more susceptible to a food borne illness such as children or the elderly.

When doing an inspection, inspectors are required to follow the Ontario Food Premises Regulation which includes things such as proper cooking and storage temperatures, staff hygiene, and facility cleaning and maintenance amongst other requirements.

“The food inspection reports on the new website will only show what corrections, if any, were required during the inspection to achieve compliance with the legislation,” says John Cannan, Senior Health Inspector with the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit.  “The main role of the inspectors is to inspect and educate.  Enforcement is a tool that is only used when it is absolutely necessary.”

The Health Unit’s Environmental Health department calls education the key to keeping food safe.  It offers a Safe Food Handling Certification course for those who are planning to work, or already work, in food premises.  The course helps people learn how food borne illnesses can happen which helps them to better understand safe food handling rules and practices.

Visit http://checkfirst.hpechu.on.ca to see the new system.

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