New inspection sign at Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Jan 10, 2019. (Photo courtesy of WECHU)

Restaurant star rating to be replaced across Windsor-Essex

After a decade, the five-star restaurant inspection system across Windsor-Essex will soon be a thing of the past.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said the “Safe Food Counts” system is being replaced by a sign that lets the public know that premises have been inspected. The new disclosure system includes a new web page, which is currently under construction, with more detailed health unit inspection reports, as well as enforcement and advisories for users to read. However, there will no longer be a star rating posted at the front door of establishments for customers.

Environmental Health Manager Phil Wong said provincial legislation has changed and now requires more detailed inspection reports.  The change wasn’t pushed by restaurants, he added.

The health unit is responsible for inspecting restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, child care centres, public pools and spas, recreational campgrounds, small drinking water systems, and personal service settings like hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, and tattoo and piercing services.

Wong said inspection reports will be quickly and easily found by name or location once the web page is launched, which should be soon.

Five-star “Safe Food Counts” signs have been posted at local food premises since 2009 and were designed to help patrons make an informed decision on where to eat. Food premises with a higher star rating have fewer infractions identified during the inspection. The star system currently rates infractions such as undercooked chicken, improper food storage temperatures, no hand washing, improper disposal of garbage or broken floor tiles. Five stars is excellent, four stars is very good, three stars is good, two stars is fair, and one star needs improvement.

More details about the new system will be announced in the first week of February during a news conference.