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).