Results of Champaign-Urbana restaurant inspections made public

By Angelica Lavito

The Champaign Urbana Public Health District recently published food establishment inspection reports on its website for the first time.  

Summaries of the inspections, along with complete inspection reports, are now available online, after news organization CU-Citizen Access advocated for CUPHD to publish the information.

The department inspects every retail food establishment where food is directly sold or offered to consumers within Champaign County, except for food operations run out of people’s homes and retail food establishments offered by the University, according to a press release.

“We’re looking for violations associated with risk factors, and these are items that contribute to foodborne illness,” said CUPHD Director of Environmental Health Jim Roberts.

The department uses an altered version of the scoring system the FDA developed in 1976, Roberts said. The FDA’s scoring system is out of 100 points and CUPHD’s adjusted score places more emphasis on critical violations or repeat violations.

“What is meaningful about the numbers is that obviously someone with quite a few violations is lacking managerial control over public risk factors,” Roberts said.

Five points are deducted per critical violation, and two points are deducted per repeat violation. An adjusted score of 36 or above is satisfactory, and scores below 35 indicate compliance below a satisfactory level. Facilities are given the opportunity to correct as many of the violations as possible during the course of the inspection, Roberts said.

Establishments that fall below compliance can submit a request for reinspection when they are ready, and an inspector will come within 48 hours. This system marks a change from the old policy where an establishment would be reinspected within 30 days. 

The change in the reinspection period coincides with the implementation of placards, beginning Jan. 1, that requires restaurants to post on their establishment to give the public some information from the most recent inspection. 

“A period of education and notification was conducted for the first six months per health district board request, hence, no separate reinspection report,” Roberts said.

The frequency of inspections for a food provider is based on its level of risk for causing foodborne illnesses. The number of food handling operations and the type of population served are factors that determine risk. 

Category I facilities undergo two inspections per year along with one educational opportunity. Category II facilities undergo one inspection per year and category III facilities receive at least one inspection per every two years, according to Roberts.

“The scoring system is a way of evaluating but may not have any public health significance,” Roberts said. 

Matt Mortenson’s campus restaurant, Zorba’s, received an adjusted score of 94 on its last inspection. He said making gyros can be messy, but he values cleanliness in his restaurant.

“Our kitchen is right here when you walk in the door, and I kind of like that,” Mortenson said. “It makes you accountable and holds you responsible for that.”

Mortenson said employees are trained about sanitation and hygiene, and one of his main priorities is ensuring that employees wash their hands. 

“I’ve seen a lot of places where people wear gloves all the time,” Mortenson said. “But if you touch your face with a glove on, it’s the same as not having a glove on and touching your face.”

Angelica can be reached at [email protected].

Editor’s note: In a previous print version of this article, it was incorrectly stated that Papa Del’s Pizza received one of the lowest scores on their health inspection, when in fact this was the score for Papa D’s. The Daily Illini regrets this error.