Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo region restaurants not required to display health inspection results

London and Toronto force restaurants to prominently display the results of their health inspections on-site, but those results in the region of Waterloo exist exclusively online. 

The Check It! We Inspect it! website contains data from all health inspections conducted in the last two years

London, Hamilton, Toronto all require restaurants to prominently display their inspection results. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Cities such as London and Toronto force restaurants to prominently display the results of their health inspections on-site, but those results in the region of Waterloo exist exclusively online. 

In 2014 Hamilton introduced a similar system that uses a green, yellow or red card. 

Green indicates that the restaurant is in compliance with food premises regulations, said Hamilton's city food safety manager Richard MacDonald.   

A yellow card means critical infractions were found during inspection, and red is reserved for restaurants that have been closed due to a health hazard. 

The critical infractions that come with a yellow card are also put on display, MacDonald said. 

"They're a series of check boxes that basically describe the type of infraction," he said. 

The boxes use broad language, but indicate the general thrust of the issue.

"We check that box, and it stays up until we return for a reinspection and they have corrected that infraction," he said. 

Making informed choices

When asked why Waterloo Region does not make physical displays necessary, an official from the public health department responded in a written statement that their Check It! We Inspect It! website "provides comprehensive information on the history of inspections for any given food premise."

The Region of Waterloo online database of health inspections. (Region of Waterloo/CBC)

In the last two years, data shows Baba Chicken Grill, a restaurant in the University Court Plaza near the University of Waterloo, has had 11 health inspections.

Two of their most issue-laced inspections happened back-to-back, in April and August of 2019. 

During both visits, Baba Chicken Grill received infractions for not covering food in storage, storing foods at improper temperatures, not properly sanitizing the storage area, and general facility cleanliness issues. 

The restaurant received a total of 21 infractions across the two visits.

Any person who dined at the restaurant in the four month period between the two inspections would have had to visit the Check it! We Inspect it! website to know about the issues.

""We encourage users to view all inspection reports of a facility before arriving at any conclusions. The history of inspections may give a fuller picture of compliance over time," the website states.

When presented with the example of Baba Chicken Grill and asked if citizens can be sure that they are safe, the statement from public health said that the department will close a restaurant if a health hazard is found during an inspection.

"Public Health Inspectors are experienced professionals and can recognize the difference between something that may be an issue of regulatory non-compliance versus a health hazard that could make people ill," the statement said.