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LEGISLATIVE ALERT-Inspection Report Posting
April 6, 2001
HB 143, by Deshotel, would mandate posting of health inspection reports.
This bill is set to be heard on Wednesday, April 11. Please call the committee member(s) from your area and ask them to OPPOSE HB 143.
A health department inspection sheet, while a matter of public record, is really a working document that is provided by the health department to the restaurant owner and is not designed to serve as a guidepost to the general consumer as to the quality or purity of the food served in restaurants. The fact that a restaurant is open for business indicates that no health hazard exists at that establishment. If an eating place poses a risk to human health, it is closed on the spot.
A health inspection report will record items that, in many cases, are fixed during the inspection. Structural issues entirely unrelated to food safety may result in a low score. Since the next inspection will occur months later, the report will not reflect the current conditions in the restaurant. Posting an inspection report would give an inaccurate portrayal of the restaurantís current condition, turning away customers when no violation exists.
The inspection process provides no opportunity for the restaurant operator to protest marks on the inspection report or to show compliance with recommendations made on the report. The inspection is intended to be a consultative process, not an adversarial one. By mandating posting a restaurant operator will become defensive during an inspection. If poor marks are made on a report with which an operator disagrees, the operator may resort to litigation to avoid the prospect of being unjustly labeled as unsafe.
The fact that one restaurant scores higher on an inspection than another is merely a tool that the health department and the restaurant can use in order to encourage all restaurants to achieve the highest possible standards in maintaining a sanitary level of operation. To insist on posting the inspection reports would be like requiring a doctor or lawyer to post their college transcripts rather than their licenses, which indicate they are competent to practice.
Rep. Patty Gray, Chair, Galveston, 512-463-0588
Source: Texas Restaurant Association