Food inspection reports finally available online
After more than three years of promises and setbacks, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit's (EOHU) online disclosure system for restaurant reports is finally up and running.
As of last week, the EOHU began making restaurant reports available to the public on its website www.eohu.ca.
Simply visit the website and click on the link that says "Food establishment inspection reports," which will take you to the new online system.
According to the health unit, food establishment inspections made on or after July 1, 2012 are now being posted online for public viewing.
"We're so pleased to have the system up and running," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer of health. "It was a long process but the online system is finally ready."
Unfortunately, those looking for a food inspection report prior to the date mentioned above will still have to make requests using the form system.
The same holds true if you're looking for an inspection report for an establishment that is no longer in business.
You can manually request a food safety inspection report - for one establishment at a time - by filling out a printable form available on its website or at local health unit offices. The form can then be delivered in person, mailed by post, or faxed, but cannot be submitted online.
According to the EOHU website, the service takes about two weeks to complete and is free of charge.
The EOHU has been heavily criticized for taking so long to make its online disclosure system available to the public.
In August, Roumeliotis told The Review the system would be up and running this fall.
"Our fully bilingual system is ready, we are testing its operation internally and will be making it public in early fall," Roumeliotis wrote in response to The Review's question as to when the system, which has been promised for more than three years now, would be made available to the public.
"It's taken us a while to get to this point and people have been critical of that," he stated. "We are certain we will be able to launch this new system within the next few weeks. That's the goal."
Representatives of the Cornwall-based health unit told The Review in February 2008 the system was on that year's operations budget and, in June 2009, Roumeliotis told a reporter he expected to have it operational by the end of 2009.
When asked why the system has taken so long to implement, Roumeliotis said the health unit had to translate all of the inspection reports, which are predominantly written and filed in English, into French to serve the region's bilingual population adequately.
The EOHU's territory includes all municipalities within the five counties - Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry - as well as the City of Cornwall.
"Sure we can post the English reports and most people will be able to read and understand them," he commented. "But 80 per cent of the health unit's catchment area is French so it's very important to make sure all of the reports are available in French as well as English."
He said the software provided by the provincial ministry of health and long-term care is English, which means every single report had to be translated into French.