Using Health Inspection Scores to Assess Risk in Food Services

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This study gathered health inspectors’ opinions about appropriate weightings of critical, noncritical, and repeat violations under the current food inspection system, and developed a classification of violations for high-, medium-, and low-risk restaurants. Results showed that health inspectors thought that the appropriate weights were five points for a critical violation, one point for a noncritical violation, and double points for a repeat violation. In addition, health inspectors thought that the maximum numbers of critical violations for a high-, medium-, and low-risk category were 2.05, 3.02, and 4.83, respectively, and for noncritical violations, 4.59, 7.30, and 10.37, respectively. A paired t-test was used to compare these values with estimations based on the traditional health inspection scoring system. Results indicate that the maximum number of critical violations for medium risk and maximum numbers of noncritical violations for low-, medium-, or high-risk restaurants were significantly different between health inspectors’ opinions and mathematical estimations. Health inspectors appear to be stricter than the traditional health inspection scoring system about violations, particularly repeat violations, and their importance in enforcement of food safety.

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