Jim Chan

Jim Chan, a retired public health inspector who spent 36 years with Toronto Public Health, performing an inspection in 2014. (CBC)

Toronto restaurants fared slightly better with city health inspectors in 2014, statistics show.

More restaurants were inspected with fewer receiving notices of violations and even fewer getting closed last year compared to the previous year. The low numbers are impressive compared to other cities, but they also point to some questions about rigour of the inspection process.

Toronto's restaurants, drinking establishments and food preparation businesses are subject to a minimum of one, two or three inspections each year, depending on type of business and volume of food served. The system overseeing food and beverage service health issues is DineSafe.

DineSafe signs are clearly visible in restaurants across the city: a green sign means a pass, and yellow means a conditional pass based on an inspection by public health officials.

The city reports 38 restaurants were closed in 2013, including Epic Burgers and Waffles, which served the infamous cronut burger at the Canadian National Exhibition that year that made hundreds sick.

In 2014, that number went down to 26.

More restaurants received passes and fewer — 155 or almost 7 per cent fewer — received conditional passes.

Overall, Toronto does better than other Canadian cities in health inspections. Metro Vancouver reported 222 restaurants closed in 2014.

There are some skepticism around the DineSafe numbers, however. Some restaurants incur numerous health violations and never get shut down. One Scarborough restaurant, for example, has been cited for more than 30 health violations resulting in eight yellow signs in just two years, but remains open.