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Philly Restaurant Inspections to Be Public ASAP

Sam Wood, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

The city Health Department, which has had a long-standing policy of keeping restaurant inspection reports secret for 30 days, announced Monday that it will move to publicly post the reports “as quickly as possible.”

The change follows an Inquirer/Philly.com report that found Philadelphia was the only major city in the United States to withhold its inspection results from the public for any significant length of time.

The 30-day delay meant that diners could unknowingly patronize restaurants cited for serious hygiene problems.

In late February, nearly 100 lawyers and law students became violently ill after attending a banquet at Joy Tsin Lau in Chinatown. Several were treated in local emergency rooms. Seventeen days before the banquet, the restaurant had been cited by the health department for five serious risk factors for food-borne illness, and was deemed to have “unacceptable public health or food-safety conditions.”

This policy change seems obvious when put in such stark terms, but to me it shows the power and importance of strong local newspapers (regardless of whether they’re printed on actual paper).

Monday, 2 November 2015