Champaign-Urbana Public Health District makes health inspection reports available online

By Emma Weissmann/For — After five years of trying to get restaurant inspection reports on their Web site, public health officials finally succeeded this month.

The site — — now delivers a wealth of information on the inspections, including the inspection history and scores for more than 1,000 food establishments.

The health department opened the Web site earlier this month, but did not announce it until Thursday.

County set to debate whether posting placards will harm restaurants

By Claire Everett/ — Whether a restaurant in Champaign County should have to tell customers if it failed its health inspection is still up for debate. As of January, food establishments in the cities of Champaign and Urbana were required to post colored placards that signified whether they passed their inspections. A green placard means it passed, yellow that it failed and must be re-inspected, and red that its inspection was so bad it was closed. However, the County Board initially excluded other food establishments in the county from the new ordinance because of concerns that the placards would hurt profits at smaller, rural establishments. But the board will take up the issue again next week at its Sept.

Mold in ice machine, flies in drain among dozens of violations in area restaurants

By Claire Everett/ — Meat leaking blood into cases of beer, ice machines with mold and flies in drains  were among the critical violations public health inspectors found in city and county restaurants and grocery stores over the past three months. Champaign County health department inspectors failed 13 businesses and closed one of them briefly. In total, inspectors cited the businesses for more than 110 critical violations. In addition,  inspectors found three food businesses were operating without licenses. Restaurants, food markets and other businesses are scored on a 100-point scale and fail with any adjusted score below 36.  Points are deducted for critical and non-critical violations to get a score.

Restaurant Inspections: Map, Graphs & Stories

For the past five years, Champaign Urbana Public Health District officials have discussed ways to best publicize restaurant inspections. In September, they began doing so. Health inspection reports of restaurants and food facilities are available by request from the health department. Last year, the health department also began posting a monthly list of all inspected food facilities and the current status. In 2011, began posting full inspection reports of all restaurants that failed routine health inspections since 2008.

A draft version of a reinspection notice. Public health officials are drafting ordinances that would require food establishments to post a color-coded placard that indicates the results of each health inspection. Yellow means the food establishment failed its health inspection with an adjusted score below 36 and but can remain open pending a reinspection within 30 days.

Trial period over – yellow placards could be coming to a restaurant near you

By Claire Everett/ — Between January and May, 32 restaurants in Champaign-Urbana failed health inspections. Diners still had no easy way of knowing if a restaurant failed – until last week. Despite the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District’s new requirement in January that restaurants post yellow placards if they failed their inspections, the district decided to allow a six-month grace period. That meant even restaurants that failed were able to make corrections during the inspection and post a green placard indicating they passed. In a few cases, restaurants failed so badly they shut down and had to post a red placard.

Wanted: Your restaurant photos

By Pamela G. Dempsey/ — Under a new notification system that began Jan. 1, restaurants and food establishments in Champaign-Urbana are required to post a color-coded placard based on health inspection results. Until July 1, placards posted will either be green for “satisfactory compliance” or red for “closed.” Starting July 1, restaurants that fail inspections but allowed to remain open must post a yellow placard for “re-inspection required”. Placards must be posted in a visible spot. See examples here.

Former Meals on Wheels recipient finds joy in volunteering

By Janelle O’Dea/ – Meals on Wheels in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., provides hot lunches and sack suppers for a small cost to adult recipients who cannot shop or cook safely, or to those who are debilitated by a physical injury, illness or pregnancy. Jerry Call was once a recipient of Meals on Wheels, and after recovering from his illness, he began volunteering because he said it gets him out of the house to help people who are in need. Call knows through experience how helpful Meals on Wheels is to people who are unable to prepare their own food. This makes his daily trips all the more meaningful to him. Call received a 2014 Presidential Volunteer Service Award for his involvement with Meals on Wheels.

Exterior of Firehaus

First quarter brings two closures, 18 restaurant failures

One Champaign restaurant was shut down for 37 violations during the first part of the year under the health department’s new placard system. Firehaus’s satisfactory compliance placard, 708 S. Sixth St., Champaign, on April 25, 2014. Another restaurant, Cactus Grill, was briefly shut down during its inspection for lack of hot water on Jan. 23. In the three months of the new program, Firehaus, 708 S. Sixth St., was closed because it failed its routine March inspection with an adjusted score of negative 19.