Saskatchewan is cooking up a new and improved restaurant inspection website.
The public can now visit the website to see the last time a restaurant was inspected for things like cleanliness and proper procedures, while finding out if the establishment was found to have a problem and if that problem has been corrected.
Site visitors can also now file complaints.
The previous version of the website was first unveiled in 2009, and after a surge of public interest to begin with, that curiosity soon faded. The site faced criticism over broad and rather vague infractions and things like storage, handling and preparation.
Things are different this time around, according Health Minister Dustin Duncan.
“It will have more-detailed information in terms of what the infraction actually is,” he indicated.
He said the site is more user-friendly and mobile-friendly, complete with a mapping feature. Besides being easier for the public to access, Duncan explained the site provides more timely and accurate information. Gone is the previous hand-written reports by public health inspectors, replaced instead with electronic reports on establishments ranging from traditional sit-down restaurants to fast-food outlets, food vendors and cafeterias to name a few.
The former website was shut down this past March as the upgrades were undertaken. The new site came online Tuesday after roughly seven months of preparation.
“Now it’s easy for Saskatchewan residents to see that restaurants are inspected regularly, that they are following the rules and that it is safe to eat there,” said Dwayne Marling with Restaurants Canada. “Really what it comes down to is that reassurance to the public that restaurants are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Inspections are done on more than 5,000 public eating establishments in Saskatchewan. Duncan said they’re usually conducted every 12 to 15 months.
The cost of revamping the new website was spread out over two years, amounting to $169,000 each year, or a total of $338,000 plus an ongoing licensing fee.