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Helmut Schmidt, Published July 21 2009

Fargo, West Fargo health inspections to be posted online

Area residents who wonder how Cass County restaurants, day care centers, hotels or tattoo parlors fare when it comes to health inspections now have a tool to help them decide if they want to patronize the place.

Fargo Cass Public Health has created a “Digital Health Department” Web site that puts inspection information about Fargo and West Fargo businesses online.

The Web site is to be revealed during a press conference today.

Fargo Cass Public Health public information officer Theresa Orecchia would not confirm Monday if the department site operating Monday was the “new” health inspections page.

A current Fargo Cass Public Health Web site that includes inspection information can be found at the City of Fargo Website

.

Once there, users must register by clicking on the “New Account” link (in blue) or the “Click here to sign up for e-mail alerts” link (in red), and providing their name, e-mail and a password.

The site is simple to use. Businesses or schools can be browsed by name, ZIP code, or the first and second letters of the name.

You can also request that inspections for specific businesses or organizations be e-mailed to you.

The number of critical and non-critical violations is given, as are the parameters of each. Critical violations are highlighted in red.

Restaurant violations are reported in broad terms, such as food protection, separation, labeling, time and temperature control; storage, dispensing, display, labeling of bulk containers and transporting; cleanliness of food contact and non-contact surfaces; or the cleanliness and repair of equipment.

Other types of businesses are also checked, such as tattoo parlors, day care centers and hotels.

While the information is easy to retrieve, the current system’s information isn’t complete.

There is no indication of whether a facility or business passes or fails inspection. Nor is there a score to indicate how far above or below standards the site in question has performed.

There are also no specific descriptions of errors that may trip a violation.

For example, are hand-washing practices adequate? Is food labeled and in proper containers? Is it kept properly heated or chilled?

The reports also do not say if the violations have been rectified.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583