Frequently asked questions

How do I report a restaurant or make a complaint?
What types of food establishments are inspected?

What do Public Heath Inspectors look for during a food establishment inspection?

What constitutes a critical infraction?

What constitutes a non-critical infraction?

What constitutes a high risk food establishment? (Minimum of three inspections per year)

What constitutes a medium risk food establishment (Minimum of two inspections per year)

What constitutes a low risk food establishment (Minimum of one inspection per year)

What are the timeframes for a food establishment to correct any deficiency?

What actions are taken if a critical infraction is not corrected?

What types of infractions could result in a closure order?

The overall mandate of the food safety program is to improve food safety standards and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. The online reports was launched on April 15,2009. Inspectors visit food establishments, both on a routine and complaint related basis, to make sure any deficiencies are quickly corrected, and prepare a report about each visit. This report is posted online shortly after the inspection and includes any deficiencies found at the establishment.

How do I report a restaurant or make a complaint?

Call 613-580-6744 to speak with a public health inspector during regular business hours, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or 613-580-2400 or 3-1-1 after hours.

What types of food establishments are inspected?

Food establishments such as: bakeries, bars, cafeterias, canteens, coffee shops, convenience food counters, day care kitchens, grocery delis, mobile food vendors, pizzerias, pubs, restaurants, special event food vendors and retail stores with food preparation are inspected by Ottawa Public Health.

What do Public Heath Inspectors look for during an inspection?

Public health inspectors monitor all aspects of food operation to confirm that businesses are complying with provincial regulations (Ontario Food Premises Regulation 562). Violations are categorized as critical infractions and non-critical infractions.

What constitutes a critical infraction?

These are infractions that could contribute to foodborne illness.

Some examples are:

  • hazardous foods – such as poultry, meat, fish and shellfish – are not cooked to the proper internal temperature required to kill potentially harmful bacteria (e.g. Hamburger Disease and Salmonella)
  • the same types of hazardous foods are not refrigerated or frozen enough to stop the growth of harmful bacteria
  • ready-to-eat foods contaminated by being in contact with raw foods, chemicals or pesticides
  • a potential for food contamination due to insect or rodent infestation at the food establishment

What constitutes a non-critical infraction?

These are infractions that impact on the overall sanitary condition of the food establishment. However, they do not directly contribute to foodborne illness.

  • cleaning and maintaining food preparation equipment is impeded by either their design or how they are arranged in the kitchen
  • food handlers are not wearing clean aprons and/or hair restraints
  • lack of approved testing methods to measure the sanitizer concentration in the dishwashers
  • insect and vermin-proof containers are not provided where required
  • garbage has not been removed to maintain clean, sanitary conditions on the premises

[ top ]

What constitutes a high-risk food establishment? (Minimum of three inspections per year)

  • a high risk food establishment is a premises that prepares and handles large quantity of hazardous foods (such as poultry, fish, and beef) that are often involved with foodborne illness – like restaurants, banquet halls and cafeterias)
  • it may also use multi-step preparation for processing food – such as defrosting, cooking, cooling, storing, reheating, preparing, hot holding, slicing, de-boning, mixing, and serving
  • establishments implicated in the past with foodborne illness may also be considered a high-risk food establishment

What constitutes a medium risk food establishment? (Minimum of two inspections per year)

  • a medium risk food establishment is a premises prepares hazardous foods to a lesser degree than the criteria outlined in high risk food establishments
  • a medium-risk establishment prepares non-hazardous foods with extensive handling and/or high volume of patrons (e.g. bakeries)

What constitutes a low risk food establishment? (Minimum of one inspection per year)

  • a low risk food establishment is a premises, that prepares and/or serves non-hazardous foods with a lesser degree of handling and/or smaller volume of patrons
  • the premises has a food storage facility for non-hazardous foods only
  • the low-risk category also applies to food establishments – such as variety stores – where the main public health concern is sanitation and maintenance

What are the timeframes for a food establishment to correct any deficiency?

Critical infractions that pose an immediate risk of foodborne illness must be corrected immediately. For non-critical infractions, the timing of the follow-up inspection is at the discretion of the public health inspector. Very often, minor deficiencies are followed up within three business days or as identified by the public health inspector and the food establishment operator.

What actions are taken if a critical infraction is not corrected?

Public health inspectors have many options and means to bring about compliance with food safety standards and regulations. The first priority is to educate the food establishment owner or operator. If the education fails, enforcement options will be used – including fines, prosecution and closure.

What types of infractions could result in a closure order?

A closure can be ordered if a health hazard is found at a food establishment, and it is not corrected. Examples of the health hazards include:

  • extensive evidence of food contamination
  • insufficient amount of potable water to operate the food establishment in a sanitary fashion
  • sewage back-up into food preparation or storage areas

[ top ]