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Restaurant grades now searchable online

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Restaurant-goers may now access up-to-date restaurant-inspection scores without having to go to the restaurant, according to officials with the Georgia Department of Community Health.

The department recently announced the launch of its state-wide health-inspection search tool, created to provide Georgians with accurate health-inspection records.

"The food inspection process for restaurants, carry-out facilities, mobile food service operations and temporary food service operations ensures that food is handled, stored and prepared safely for human consumption," said Scott Uhlich, the state Department of Community Health's (DCH) director of environmental health.

"These critical steps help to minimize food-borne-related illnesses," said Uhlich. "This tool will allow Georgians the opportunity to make informed decisions when dining out."

To search for health-inspection records, visit the Environmental Health web site at www.georgiaeh.us, click on the food service inspections online link, and select a county to search for the latest inspections of food service, and tourist accommodations.

"It's probably a good thing as a consumer, but the problem is that I don't really know what infractions made those scores," said Shelley Delisle, of McDonough. "When someone gets a 'B,' what does that mean?"

Delisle, who occasionally dines out at local restaurants, said she is less concerned by some infractions compared to others that would affect the quality of her food.

"I think it can be a double-edged sword in that consumers can only see the score," Delisle continued. "Businesses could be really hurt by this, if the measurements for getting that good grade aren't directly related to food quality. I think it could really hurt some very good, hard-working businesses."

Online inspections include color-coded number grades, identifying each inspection as having resulted in "no," "one," or "multiple" critical-health violations. Health officials said, while inspections will be available online, consumers should contact their local health department about any questions or concerns about any missing, or specific inspections.

Online restaurant-inspection 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 choosing the first letter of an establishment's name.