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Know your favourite eatery: How you can find food inspection results

Nov 15, 2016
Foodborne illness—the term food poisoning is sometimes used—is caused by poor handling of food, allowing the growth of bacteria harmful to the digestive system.

 



  By Dr. Charles Gardner


Foodborne illness—the term food poisoning is sometimes used—is caused by poor handling of food, allowing the growth of bacteria harmful to the digestive system.

Symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea may last a day or several days, but are usually limited in duration and not serious. There are some types of foodborne illness that can be much more serious, and some people are more vulnerable to severe illness. In Simcoe Muskoka last year there were 246 reported cases of foodborne illness, a rate similar to Ontario’s. It is estimated there are 100,000 cases of foodborne illnesses in Ontario each year and many of these go unreported. From 2007-2010, most cases of foodborne illness were acquired from meals in home (42%) or from restaurants (37%).

Proper food handling practices are key to reduce the risk of foodborne illness both at home and in restaurants. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit offers food handler certification training for food handlers in food establishments, as well as for residents of Simcoe Muskoka. A certified food handler has gained knowledge and skills to help handle foods safely and help to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. The course is offered in both a workshop or self-study option.

Under the Ontario Public Health Standards, health units are responsible for routinely inspecting all food premises, including restaurants. There are close to 3,900 food premises in Simcoe Muskoka, of which more than 1,110 are restaurants. All are inspected by public health inspectors every year. These inspections are conducted unannounced by our certified public health inspectors.

In December of 2014, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit launched the Inspection Connection website www.inspectionconnection.ca. This map-based site makes our inspection results more accessible and increases transparency in our dealings with food premises.

The system introduced two new components to inspection disclosure for food establishments.

  • The posting of a “Certificate of Inspection” sign at the business. The green sign indicates that a compliance inspection or re-inspection was conducted on the noted date. A round sticker on the sign indicates there was at least one certified food handler working at the time of the inspection. At present, 99 per cent of food establishments in Simcoe Muskoka have posted a “Certificate of Inspection” sign.
  • The Inspection Connection website contains a summary of items of non-compliance or items that were corrected during the inspection or re-inspection.

Since it was launched, the website has received over 110,000 page views and it continues to have new and returning visitors. Some of the most popular dates to visit the website have been Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day and New Year’s Eve.

Residents are also able to receive food premises inspection results from the Health Connection telephone line by calling 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

Dr. Gardner is the Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health

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