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MAILBAG: Is it safe to eat out?

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:40 AM

ANSWER:

The public has a right to know if a restaurant is a safe place to eat, right? The Ottawa County Health Department apparently agrees.

Visit miottawa.org/HealthComm/Health/restaurant.htm. Plenty of details on inspection reports and how to read them are on that page.

Then click the link for the inspection reports, and you are redirected to swordsolutions.com. Weird name, but that's where the action is at. It will ask for State/County, so click "MI-Ottawa" and search. You can narrow it down by typing in the city or even a particular restaurant.

The Ottawa County Environmental Health Services' Food Safety and Sanitation Division inspects food service establishments. These food service establishments may be fixed, mobile or temporary.

Food service establishments include restaurants, bars, school cafeterias (are the lunch ladies wearing their hair nets?), factory cafeterias, coffee shops, donut/bagel shops, ice cream shops, concessions, catering kitchens, private organizations serving the public.

According to Michigan law, food service establishments operating year-round and school cafeterias are inspected once every six months. Establishments operating nine or fewer months each year are supposed to be inspected once per season of operation.

There are two main categories of violations: critical and noncritical.

Critical violations are more likely than noncritical violations to lead to contamination of food and to result in causing a food-borne illness if not corrected. Each violation listed in an inspection report states whether or not the violation is critical.

Critical violations on the inspection report are followed by the name of the violation, while noncritical violations are listed by name of the violation only.

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