Article: “Check online, then dine” (May 2006)

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excerpt:
"If you like to dine out, be careful how you use the state's new Web site on restaurant health inspections. The site — http://www.ksfoodsafety.org — was unveiled Thursday in Topeka. It allows instant access to two years' worth of inspection records for all 10,300 food service establishments in Kansas.

Users will be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that's never been cited for a violation. And germophobes could quickly scare themselves out of ever dining out again.

But that's not realistic, said Sharon Watson, communications director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which created the site.

It's all about perspective, she said. Diners can rest assured that a restaurant with violations serious enough to pose a public health risk would be shut down until the problems were addressed.

…Information on the site is updated weekly, and users also can file complaints about restaurants.

…But diners should be careful not to misinterpret the information, Watson said.

A restaurant that's been cited for 11 minor violations might actually pose less of a threat than a restaurant that's been cited for one major violation.

"People need to realize that there are different levels of concern," she said. "The violations aren't all the same."

source: "Check online, then dine" by Denise Neil (The Wichita Eagle, May 5,2006) 

Many state and city health departments are putting restaurant inspections online for easy public access.  Here are a few more sites:

New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene Restaurant Inspection Information

Philadelphia Environmental Health Services Restaurant Inspection

Spies Online's Restaurant Inspection Reports -listed by state

If you can't find restaurant inspections for your city or region online, you may also try contacting your local health department or state restaurant association for more information.

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