The Ventura County Environmental Health Division Food Protection Program (FPP) performs periodic inspections of over 4,000 retail food facilities* in Ventura County that serve or sell food to the public. Inspectors look for things like:
- Proper training of food handlers
- Proper maintenance of equipment
- Food is free of contamination and properly labeled and stored
- Conditions are safe, clean and sanitary
- Proper food temperatures
* Retail food facilities include restaurants, markets that serve food, bakeries, mobile food, donut shops, retail stores like Target that serve food, coffee shops, gas stations, produce stands, bars, etc.
The FPP maintains an online, searchable database of food facility inspection reports since January 2004! CLICK HERE to explore. You can find out about all sorts of violations the facility has had in the past, be it vermin infestation, improper equipment sanitation, no soap or paper towels in the restroom, inoperable equipment, improper storage, you name it! All the restaurants I frequent are on the list and all of them have had violations. The good thing is that these inspections keep them on their toes, so I keep eating.
The FPP also publishes an online Food Facilities Closure Report of places where violations are significant enough to shut down the place until they are resolved. Usually the resolution takes place same day or up to 1 or 2 days, though at times as much as weeks depending on the issue. This is even more fun to look at! Some of the noted issues in recent closures have been inoperable equipment, cockroach infestation, no hot water for hand washing, unsanitary conditions, rodent infestation, inoperable restroom, etc.
There is also some useful information about proper food handling for all of us on the website, including these tidbits:
- Clean: Wash hands, utensils and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
- Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry apart from foods that won't be cooked.
- Cook: Use a food thermometer - you can't tell food is cooked safely by how it looks.
- Chill: Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours and keep the fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
For more information, visit www.ventura.org/rma/envhealth.