All 1100 licensed establishments are ruled by a set of guidelines from the health department, put in place to prevent you from falling ill after dining in.
The parking lot may be full, but even some of the most popular restaurants aren’t perfect when it comes to inspections.
Roberto Medina is a Sanitarian with the Peoria County Health Department. His job is to surprise restaurants three times a year for an inspection.
For Medina, each kitchen is different. He said he’s keeping his eye out for a lengthy list of possible violations.
Warm refrigerators, dirty utensils and anything that could compromise the meal you’re waiting to bite into.
Medina’s leader, Wil Hayes, is the Director of Environmental Health for the Peoria County Health Department. Hays said the health department wants consumers to think before they dine, and it’s providing citizens with a way to do their own checking.
Hayes explained. “You can go to your favorite restaurant, you can look up an entire inspection history back three years and I think it's really important for individuals to take a quick look at that score.”
One of the most common ones Medina sees is unlabeled toxics. He said, “I don't want toxics or cleaners intermingled with food or food items."
A second problem is rodents and pests. The most critical violation is one employees don’t do enough of. Hand washing.
Medina said, “You run into some occasions where you go there to inspect and everybody runs and washes their hands about 15 times in front of you. But then a later date, I'll come in as a customer and that is just not happening anymore.”
Medina said it’s the single most effective way to reduce contamination and it helps eliminate a growing problem for the food industry. “We are seeing a lot of food borne illness associated with Norovirus. Salmonella is still really high. And a lot of them aren't what we used to think of. It used to be, you thought salmonella you thought chicken. Well now, we are seeing salmonella and E. Coli in fruits and vegetables.”
So before you take a seat, take a look. You can be your own inspector and decide if your favorite restaurant is giving you the kind of meal you’d feed your family.
This story was done inside Carla’s Country Kitchen. It passed its inspection with a nearly perfect score and no critical violations.
Below are links for area inspections: