By Claire Everett/CU-CitizenAccess.org — 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.
By Claire Everett/CU-CitizenAccess.org — 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.
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, CU-CitizenAccess.org began posting full inspection reports of all restaurants that failed routine health inspections since 2008.
By Claire Everett/CU-CitizenAccess.org — 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.
By Claire Everett/CU-CitizenAccess.org — Raw sewage backup prompted health inspectors to temporarily shut down two area restaurants in April. Champaign-Urbana Public Health District inspectors failed six others during April inspections. One of the restaurants, Rice Garden at the Illini Union, closed permanently after its failure for an unrelated reason. Evo Internet Café, 711 S. Sixth Street, Champaign, was closed for nearly a week after health inspectors noticed raw sewage on the basement floor during a re-inspection. The Original Pancake House, 1909 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign, was also temporarily closed on April 9 after inspectors noted raw sewage from a drain backed up onto the server station floor.
By Pamela G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess.org — 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.
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.
Nearly two dozen restaurants in Champaign-Urbana have failed health inspections during the past three months. But most customers would not know that, despite new requirements that restaurants post results of their inspections.