Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Restaurant Food Safety Inspections: Mercer Island, Wash.

by Matt Rosenberg November 22nd, 2010

SUMMARY: Inspectors for the combined public health department serving King County and Seattle regularly conduct on-site assessments of food service establishments and their compliance with necessary food safety procedures. Results are online and searchable by name, address, city or zip code. Recent inspections in the King County city of Mercer Island – zip code 98040 – revealed that a number of establishments were not following proper food safety procedures to minimize the risk of food-borne infections, at the time of inspection.

BACKGROUND: An estimated 76 million people per year suffer from food-borne illnesses, and 5,000 die annually in the U.S. from these ailments, which include botulism, campylobacteriosis, norovirus, salmonellosis, and shigellosis. As a result, proper hot and cold holding temperatures of foods and beverages in food service establishments are considered important. So are hand washing and hot water, soap and paper towels in the restrooms, general sanitation and avoidance of cross-contamination between ready-to-eat foods and uncooked raw meat, poultry or seafood. These and other necessary food handling procedures are detailed online by Public Health Seattle-King County and in educational visits to food establishments following inspections. Violations cited during inspections are divided into two categories. Red violations are more serious, and pose a heightened risk of transmitting food-borne illnesses to customers. Blue violations relate to maintenance. Each violation is assigned a certain number of points. Any inspection score above 5 points earns an “unsatisfactory” grade for a restaurant. It takes 35 red points to trigger a re-inspection within two weeks, and 90 red points or 120 combined red and blue points to warrant a closure.

KEY FINDINGS

According to the most recent King County-Seattle Public Health inspections of food service establishments in zip code 98040 as of this writing, the following establishments received ratings of “unsatisfactory” which were higher than the minimum “unsatisfactory” rating of 5 points.

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