HARRISBURG — Food inspectors cited Pennsylvania restaurants for a wide range of violations at least 1,721 times over the last year, state records show.
That’s not the full number, because in dozens of communities across the state, inspections are conducted by local health departments that don’t share their findings on the state’s Department of Agriculture’s food safety website.
Even in those cases, diners would only know if they ask the restaurant’s manager for a copy of an inspection report or log onto a Department of Agriculture website and search for inspection reports. Pennsylvania lacks any meaningful posting requirements that would allow diners to know what kind of food safety history restaurants have.
Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture conduct the restaurant checks in much of the state, but in about 60 counties and municipalities, the reviews are done by local inspectors.
In December 2013, Meadville City Council turned over inspection and licensing of restaurants to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture effective Jan. 1, 2014.
Before that, Assistant City Manager Gary Johnson had been in charge of restaurant inspections in the city.
“Council and staff felt that since the state does retail food facility inspections on a daily basis … this task would be met and my time would be better spent focusing on other tasks,” Johnson told the Tribune in an email. “Frankly, from my perspective, (they) would to a better job.”
The state allows local inspectors to load their reports into the online database, but the state has no control over whether they do, said Lydia Johnson, director of the Bureau of Food Safety for the state Department of Agriculture. Inspection reports from Philadelphia and Allegheny County are housed on websites run by the heath departments there, rather than in…