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35 inspectors responsible for 5,000 restaurants in Central Alberta

bclocalnews.com, Aug. 25, 2017

Do you know if the restaurant you have just ordered that ham and cheese from is safe to eat? 

That's a question been on Central Albertans' minds after a recent video surfaced showing a local restaurant in bad light. 

Central Alberta restaurants receive about one to three routine inspections in a year.

A total of 35 inspectors share responsibility for the approximate 5,000 restaurants in Central Alberta.

Alberta Health Services say on average public health inspectors conduct 3.5 inspections a day. A rough math would then suggest that all 35 inspectors inspect about 122.5 restaurants a day and all 5,000 food establishments can be inspected in about 40 days.

But that may not necessarily be the case because public health inspectors have other responsibilities as well. For example, they are also responsible for inspecting other facilities such as swimming pools.

They also prioritize their responsibility, for example, if AHS receives a complaint regarding a restaurant, that restaurant will be higher on the check list vs. a food establishment that's due a routine check.

There are various types of inspections explained AHS's Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, medical officer of health for Central Alberta including a routine inspection which is a surprise visit from a public health inspector. It happens between one to three times a year. This number may go up if there's a previous breach or complaint.

Other types of inspections include an initial inspection which restaurateurs have to pass to receive their permit to be up and running. An inspection based on demand is when AHS receives a complaint and inspectors give them a surprise visit.

When asked if the one-to-three times a year inspection number is enough Achebe said that number is for restaurants that haven't had any issues adding that restaurants are visited more frequently if there are concerns.

When there's an issue with any food establishment, the management is advised to go through a food safety course, she added.