Online database of restaurant inspections released in Montana

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To help keep track of the restaurant inspection reports for the general public, the Lewis and Clark City-County Health Department in Montana has launched a new online database, according to The Independent Record. Laurel Riek, licensed establishment program manager at the health department, said the database is an ongoing project and will be updated every time a business is inspected.

Right now, there are only a small number of records in the database, but it will soon grow as more restaurants are looked at and correct any errors that may have existed. Results and updates will be posted to the online database in a manner of a few days, Riek told the news source. Any violations that occur will be separated into “critical” and “noncritical,” with the critical infractions being those that may cause injury or illness. Riek said this will work as a way to allow residents to see how their favorite restaurants are doing, but said sometimes inspections can be misleading if taken alone.

“If they are having a bad day, that’s where they will be, and if they are having a good day, that’s where they will be,” she said. “It goes both ways.”

King County, Wash., has a similar online database through its health department. The website allows members of the public to search through all of the restaurants and view the results of the unannounced, semi-annual inspections. Any problem that is found is written up and categorized under a red critical violation, which may cause food borne illnesses and blue violations, which are sanitary issues. Residents can be the judge of which restaurants look safe and sanitary to them after looking at these databases.