Thunder Bay·Poll

Health unit eyes online restaurant inspection reports

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says it's looking at options for posting food inspection results online.
Craig and Hollie Napper run the Blue Door Cafe in Thunder Bay. To find out how their kitchen did in its last health unit inspection, one must telephone or visit the health unit. Those reports may eventually be made available online. (Adam Burns/CBC)

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says it's looking at options for posting food inspection results online.

Recently, the Northwestern Health Unit based in Kenora decided to post restaurant inspection results from its jurisdiction on its website.

"You can go on and check the results of your local food premises, and see how they scored overall," said Stephanie Snow, a health inspector with the Northwestern Health Unit.

Lee Sieswerda, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit's acting manager of environmental health, said he'd like to implement a similar system in Thunder Bay, but it won't happen this year.

"Just because of the realities of budgeting, and cycles ... We didn't budget for it in 2014, because we don't have any definite plans yet, so the earliest that we'd be able to do it would be 2015.”

Currently, those who are interested in restaurant inspection results need to telephone or visit the health unit.

"But that's not a very convenient system for the public,” Sieswerda said.

“The ideal is certainly a system that's more proactive, where people can access the information when they need it.”

Social media feedback helps

At Thunder Bay’s Blue Door Bistro, owner Craig Napper said that even without online inspection results, feedback through social media already plays a helpful role.

Currently, the only way Thunder Bay restaurant patrons can obtain inspection reports is by contacting the health unit.

"You get lots of comments and stuff from people already ... good or bad ... you can learn from both,” he said.

"I do my best to keep everything clean, and inspections that I have are always relatively good."

His wife and restaurant co-owner Hollie Napper said having restaurant inspection reports online could serve as a deterrent for restaurant owners who aren't doing enough to maintain a safe eating environment.

"[For] those that aren't doing the right thing, and sliding under the table with what they can get away with, it should definitely put a fear into them," she said.

“You don't want to go home and find out that, [in] the kitchen you just ate [from], they found mouse droppings or something. You [would] feel a little dirty, and a little gross."


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