Disclosing Inspection Results at Point-of-Service: Affect of Characteristics of Food Establishment Inspection Programs on Foodborne Illness Outcomes

January/February 2021 issue of the Journal of Environmental HealthAbstract

The significant proportion of foodborne illnesses attributed to restaurants highlights the importance of food establishment inspections. The objectives of this cross-sectional study were to characterize local inspection programs and evaluate the effects of programmatic characteristics, such as active public disclosure of inspection results, on select operational and foodborne illness outcomes. Between January 7 and April 6, 2020, an online 36-question survey was administered to 790 government-run food establishment inspection programs at state and local levels. Of 149 survey respondents, 127 (85%) represented local food establishment inspection agencies. Agencies that disclosed at the point-of-service reported fewer mean numbers of re-inspections by 15%, foodborne illness complaints by 38%, outbreaks by 55% (p = .03), and Salmonella cases by 12% than agencies that disclosed online only. Agencies that used some type of grading method for inspection results reported fewer mean numbers of re-inspections by 37%, complaints by 22%, outbreaks by 61%, and Salmonella cases by 25% than agencies that did not grade inspections. Programmatic characteristics appear to be associated with foodborne illness outcomes. These results warrant future research to improve the effectiveness of food establishment inspection programs.

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Speaker / Author: 
Thuy N. Kim, MPH, CFOI, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Melanie J. Firestone, MPH, PhD, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Natasha DeJarnett, MPH, PhD, National Environmental Health Association
Laura Wildey, CP-FS, National Environmental Health Association
Jesse C. Bliss, MPH, National Environmental Health Association
David T. Dyjack, DrPh, CIH, National Environmental Health Association
Jennifer Edwards, PhD, National Network of Public Health Institutes
Harlan Stueven, MD, Dining Safety Alliance
Craig W. Hedberg, PhD, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Month Year: 
January 2021
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
January/February 2021
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