How does your favorite restaurant make sure the food they serve you meets the highest of safety standards?
That’s a question you may not always think of — but is worth asking.
Minot facilities that serve food to the public must meet certain standards referred to as the food code.
Environmental Health Practitioner Jayme Calavera says this includes:
“Proper storage temperature in the refrigerators, cooking temperatures that they are being cooked at the right level to ensure that the food is safe. We look for things like handling of the food, good handwashing on the part of the employees. We look for glove use to prevent bare hand contact with the food.”
Those are just some of the things that are checked at food establishments and according to Calavera, the frequency of these inspections depends on the risk level of the facility and the level of complexity associated with the food they make.
Food trucks will likely be inspected once a year while dine-in restaurants that serve chicken, beef or pork could be checked twice a year.
Inspectors score facilities as being in compliance or out of compliance with the food code. They can also be scored on whether a facility is a repeat offender.
“They start with 100 and if they score below 70 they get reinspected and if they score below 60 they get closed,” Calavera said.
In North Dakota, these scores are not displayed at the facilities, although they are available by request to the public.
Calavera says most of the issues are behind the scenes.
“A lot of the things that most closely pertain to food safety, aren’t things you can see from the dining room side of things. If it’s closed that’s obviously a bad sign that they are not good.”
When food establishments are cited for violations they’re given the opportunity to fix their problems. That’s why First District Health Unit is advising that the best way to know the true status of any food establishment is to check for patterns in previous inspections reports.
The Environmental Health Division of FDHU says restaurants are generally compliant with the safety codes.