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Mississippi State Department of Health Announces New Restaurant Inspection Rating System

From: MSDH    Filed 9/10/07 GCN

JACKSON, Miss. – Starting today, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will begin using a new consumer-friendly restaurant inspection rating system in food service facilities statewide.

The new system uses a new permit accompanied by a color-coded inspection report displayed in a prominent location inside restaurants and food service facilities. The new permits – allowing a facility to operate – should appear in all Mississippi restaurants and food service facilities by mid-September. The new, graded inspection reports will be phased in as inspections take place. The reports are based on a letter grade inspection rating of A, B or C that is intended to be easily understandable at a glance. The A and B rating will be green, and the C rating will be orange for easy identification by consumers.

The rating system tells consumers whether “critical violations” are found and corrected. The FDA Food Code defines critical violations as those that can contribute to food contamination, illness or are considered a potential health hazard. Facilities will be given an “A” if they are not cited with any critical violations, a “B” if critical violations are cited but are corrected at the time of the inspection, and a “C” if critical violations are cited that cannot be corrected at the time of the inspection. Those violations must be corrected within a designated time period no longer than 10 days. A “C” will also be given if critical violations are cited and corrected at the time of the inspection but were repeated from the most recent inspection. If a “C” grade is not corrected within the specified time period, the process of suspending the facility’s permit – closing the facility – is initiated. Restaurants or food service facilities cited with critical violations that pose an imminent public health risk will be closed immediately.

“We’re not changing the definition of a critical violation or how we conduct an inspection,” said Dr. Ed Thompson, Interim State Health Officer. “We’re simply implementing a graded system for reporting the inspections that will be more consumer-friendly in presenting how food service facilities rate in health inspections.”

According to Dr. Thompson, MSDH is currently training staff members on the new system, and consumers should start seeing the new inspection reports in restaurants and food service facilities beginning today. The new inspection reports should be displayed in all Mississippi restaurants and food service facilities by the end of the year.

“Field training throughout the state should be completed by the end of September, and all of our environmentalists will be using the new inspection reports by the beginning of October,” said Tim Darnell, Director of Environmental Services.

MSDH worked with the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association (MHRA) to ensure the rating system was consumer-friendly, said Mike Cashion, executive director of the MHRA.

“We are in full support of the new system,” Cashion said. “The most important goal of our organization is to protect public health, and we are glad to work with the Health Department in keeping that our top priority.”

For more information on restaurant inspections and the new consumer-friendly rating system, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com or call us at 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948.)

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