RESTAURANT REPORT: No More Critical Violations

RESTAURANT REPORT: No More Critical Violations

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There are big changes happening to restaurant health inspection in Virginia.  No more critical violations.  The Virginia Department of Health is calling violations something else now, plus dogs can now join you on the patio.

That familiar stamping sound in our Restaurant Reports will no longer signal that a health inspector found critical violations in a restaurant.  Now, it will signal that a health inspector found "Priority Violations."  Priority violations are just like critical violations.  They are problems that can lead to food borne illness.

Explained Julie Henderson, Director of Food and General Environmental Services for the state Health Department, "Say, chicken salad.  The inspector goes in and identifies that chicken salad is 60 degrees.  We know that has a direct effect on food borne illness."

And there will be two new categories.  One is called Priority Foundation.

"A priority foundation would be the cooler the chicken salad is stored in.  If the cooler is 65 degrees, that would be a violation of Priority Foundation," said Henderson.

And a Core Violation, which refers general sanitation, such as dirty floors.

Why the change?  Henderson says they're based on new U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

"The FDA worked with the states and the industry to develop something that was really more risk-based.  It had to do with direct food borne illness."

Before the new regulations, dogs were not allowed on restaurant patios unless the restaurant received a waiver from the Health Department.

Under the new regulations, all restaurants can allow dogs on patios, if they meet the following criteria:

  • the patio is not fully enclosed
  • there's a separate entrance to the outdoor dining area
  • there's a sign alerting customers
  • dogs cannot eat or drink from wares used for people
  • dogs are not allowed on seats or tables
  • dogs are on a leash
  • there's an effective way to clean up after the dogs

Also, the new regulations require that restaurant workers are trained in food allergies.

Said Henderson, "Establishments must be aware of the eight major food allergens and also know about responses to those allergens."

These changes took effect on July 12, 2016.

By July 1, 2018, all restaurants will also be required to have at least one manager who is certified through an approved food safety program, such as ServSafe.

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