The City of Portland began posting all restaurant inspection reports on its website yesterday, giving the public an inside look at the kitchens and mop buckets of local eateries.
Quoth Michael Russell, the city's Environmental Health & Safety Program manager, in a press release: "With Portland's growing reputation as a foodie destination, it is important that tourists and residents alike are able to enjoy dining in establishments that are safe and clean, which is why we want people to be able to check inspection reports and understand what they mean so they can make good choices as to where to dine."
The website lists a restaurant's name and address, with inspection history dates below. Next to each date is "Passed" or "Failed" with a hyperlink to the full report, so the curious can learn exactly why Wok Inn failed four times before finally passing.
Dick Grotton, the president of the Maine Restaurant Association, tells the Press Herald that he thinks posting the reports is a "bad idea" because a restaurant can fail for many reasons, a lot of which don't affect the safety of the food being served. "If the public knew what the actual infraction was, they would laugh."
Arlin Smith, the co-owner of Hugo's and Eventide Oyster Co., tells the Bangor Daily News that it's important to look at the actual violations, not just the result:
If you look at the Porthole that was shut down last year, it was rat infested. That's a big one. You need to be held accountable as a restaurateur. But you can't have an open plastic cup of water [nearby] a cook — that's a failing violation, too.Portland is the first Maine municipality to post the reports, but the BDN helps provide some context: three years ago, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg started assigning letter grades (he and Gov. LePage must hang out) to restaurants based on inspection reports, with those grades posted on establishments' front doors. This was initially controversial, but city officials are now claiming it a success, as violations have diminished and more restaurants are receiving high grades. New York and other cities have long posted inspection results online.
— Tom Minervino
· City of Portland Inspection Reports [Official Site]
· Portland Posts All Restaurant Inspection Reports Online [PPH]
· As Portland's Food Scene Grows, Inspectors Start to Keep Score [BDN]
[Image: a snippit of a failed inspection]