IHA website adds insight

When a number of people fall ill after eating in a restaurant or at a catered event, we
expect the health authority to take proper steps to ensure the problem is dealt with.

And swift action was taken last week after dozens of people got sick after eating food made by a local restaurant - lab tests confirmed it was norovirus, public-health officials met with restaurant owners to go over procedures and outlined what cleaning measures had to be taken before the restaurant could reopen.

The owners took their task seriously and the restaurant was given a clean bill of health by end week, happy to welcome back loyal patrons.

The situation was not something that occurs frequently or necessarily something that could have been avoided altogether with a virus so easily spread.

As a rule, simply knowing they will be subject to regular inspections (and no, these visits are not necessarily announced ahead of time), restaurateurs maintain a certain standard.

And those inspections are posted on the IHA's website for the public to see.

Of course, most purveyors of food and drink want to be known for their quality food and
service and it's that pride that sees them striving for the best, not whether a patron might read their latest inspection online.

But having this additional tool available to the public does add a certain level of accountability.

That section on the IHA website (it's under Your Environment, Inspection Reports) was relaunched Friday and is now more user-friendly.

It's not going to highlight unsubstantiated public complaints but shows practical details like whether a fridge wasn't working properly, dishwasher wasn't being run with hot enough water or if soap was missing in a hand-wash station.

They're small bits of information that can tell a lot about a restaurant or bar's attention to detail and a possible lack of care if the issues are not fixed by the time a follow-up inspection is done.

Largely we rely on the health authority's inspections to ensure restaurants are operating
under certain standards.

But posting the inspections online is a worthwhile additional tool; sunlight is the best disinfectant, after all.

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