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Food Premises, Personal Service Settings and Inspections

Have Your Say Ottawa

Image of a traffic light representing trial colour-rating system for food safety inspection resultsOnline Trial colour-rating system for food safety inspection results

Ottawa Public Health is looking for your feedback on a trial project to improve the way food safety inspections are displayed online. Please visit www.HaveYourSayOttawa.ca from January 9th, 2017 to March 9th, 2017 to give your input.

Enhancements to Online Food Safety Inspection Results at Food Premises

The Role of Ottawa Public Health’s Food Safety Program

Under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) inspects a wide range of food premises to improve food safety standards and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) monitor compliance with provincial regulations, as well as promote food safety and cleanliness in Ottawa's retail food industry. OPH’s Food Safety Program includes:

Inspectors visit food establishments both on a routine and complaint-related basis to inspect for infractions, to provide education on the importance of food safety and to make sure any infractions are corrected in a timely manner. A report about each inspection is prepared and posted online that includes outstanding infractions at the conclusion of the inspection.

Food premises are inspected once, twice or three times each year, depending on the type of establishment, the food preparation processes, the volume and type of food served as well as other criteria, as defined by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

Risk

Definition

Example

Minimum number of Inspections

High-risk

  • prepares and handles large quantity of hazardous foods (such as poultry, fish, and beef) that are often involved with foodborne illness
  • serves a high risk population
  • uses multi-step preparation for processing food – such as defrosting, cooking, cooling, storing, reheating, preparing, hot holding, slicing, de-boning, mixing, and serving
  • has been implicated in the past with foodborne illness may also be considered a high-risk food establishment

restaurants, banquet halls, institutional kitchens and cafeterias

3 times per year

Moderate-risk

  • prepares hazardous foods, but to a lesser degree than the criteria outlined in high risk food establishments
  • prepares non-hazardous foods with extensive handling and/or high volume of patrons

Bakeries

2 times per year

Low-risk

  • prepares and/or serves non-hazardous foods with a lesser degree of handling and/or smaller volume of patrons
  • has a food storage facility for non-hazardous foods only
  • main public health concern is related to sanitation and maintenance

variety stores

1 time per year

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 Responsibility of retail food premises

All food premises must comply with the minimum requirements set out in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. OPH monitors food safety in Ottawa restaurants, cafeterias, and other food premises through regular inspections. During these inspections, Public Health Inspectors observe aspects of food production and operation to confirm that businesses are complying with provincial regulations. If an Inspector notes any infractions during his/her inspection, he/she will return with the expectation that all outstanding infractions have been corrected. Although routine inspections are unannounced, inspection results reflect the observations of a Public Health Inspector at the time of inspection.

Some of the infractions PHIs observe include:

Infraction Type

Example (not an exhaustive list)

Health Hazard Infraction

  • An infraction that presents an immediate health risk with considerable negative impact on health.
  • These items must be corrected immediately or an Order to Close the premises will be issued.
  • Enforcement action will be taken.
  •  No hot and cold running water under pressure in food preparation area or where utensils are washed
  • Rodent or insect infestation without effective method of pest control
  • Sewage back-up
  • No potable water
  • Food observed to be contaminated or adulterated
  • Foods that are uninspected, ungraded, or unpasteurized
  • Presence of positive pathogenic bacteria in food

Critical Infraction

  • An infraction that presents an immediate or potential health risk.
  • These items directly involve food, such as contamination, time-temperature abuse or any other condition that could be a potential health hazard.
  • These items must be corrected immediately.
  •  Food handlers are not observed washing their hands with soap and warm water prior to food preparation
  • Hand wash basin is not supplied with the necessary supplies
  • Potential contamination of ready-to-eat foods by raw foods or chemicals during preparation or storage
  • Hazardous foods are not cooked to the  minimum internal temperature required to destroy potentially harmful bacteria
  • Hazardous foods are not maintained at an internal temperature that will prevent the growth of potentially harmful bacteria

Semi-Critical Infraction

  • An infraction that presents an immediate or potential health risk with moderate impact on health.
  • These items indirectly involve food, through handling, preparation, storage and/or service.
  • Generally, these items must be corrected within 3 business days.
  • *In the event that the operator requires more time to correct an infraction, a Work Action Plan will be initiated and the timeframe for compliance will be at the discretion of the PHI.
  •  Food contact surfaces or equipment require cleaning or repair
  • Repair of refrigeration and mechanical dish washing equipment required
  • Accurate indicating thermometers not provided
  • Garbage not stored in a sanitary manner
  • Improper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils
  • Washroom cleanliness not maintained, supplies not provided

Non-Critical Infraction

  • An infraction that presents a minimal health risk.
  • Generally, remedial action is required by the next scheduled inspection.
  • *In the event that the operator requires more time to correct an infraction, a Work Action Plan will be initiated and the timeframe for compliance will be at the discretion of the PHI.
  •  Walls, floors or other non-food contact surfaces or equipment need cleaning or repair (e.g., cracked or missing floor tiles, cracked or peeling paint not directly over food preparation area)
  • Inadequate ventilation and lighting systems
  • Hair constraints not worn

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New Online Food Inspection Disclosure Trial Project

Research has shown that disclosure systems improve compliance with food safety legislation and enhance food safety standards in retail food business establishments. Inspection results are made available to the public on OPH’s food safety disclosure website. Inspection results are uploaded to the website within two business days after they are completed and remain online for two years.

Consultations conducted by OPH have shown that residents want more accessible information about the results of food safety inspections. In response to feedback from the public, OPH is introducing an online disclosure trial that aims to make inspection results more clear for the public, to improve food safety standards, to recognize businesses that consistently uphold food safety practices and to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

The online disclosure trial uses a colour rating system to display inspection results.

ColourDefinition

Green

A green square with a check mark indicating a premise is approved for operation

Approved for Operation

Premise is approved for operation by OPH

  • Food premises that comply with all legislative requirements, as observed at the time of inspection will be rated green.
  • If infractions are observed, a re-inspection (follow-up inspection) may occur to ensure all outstanding items are corrected. Sometimes infractions may be addressed during the next routine inspection.

 Yellow

A yellow square with an exclamation mark indicating a premise is under enforcement and action(s) is taken

Enforcement Action(s) Taken

 Premise has been inspected and is approved for operation by OPH, but legal action has been taken (including tickets, orders under the HPPA and/or court action)

  • The yellow rating means that inspection results have lead to legal action in the form of a ticket or a summons.
  • Tickets can be issued for health hazard, critical, semi-critical, or non-critical infractions.
  • Legal action can also mean a premise is being summoned to appear before the court for continued non-compliance.
  • A food premise with a yellow rating will be re-inspected (follow-up inspection) to ensure the infraction(s) that caused the legal action have been corrected. If upon re-inspection the infraction has not been corrected, further legal action will occur.

 Red

A red square with a strike-out circle indicating a premise is closed

Closed

 Premise has been closed by OPH and is not approved for operation

  • A red closure rating means that one or more health hazard infractions were observed during the inspection and were not corrected immediately. A Public Health Inspector will issue an order, under section 13 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, requiring the operator to close their establishment to eliminate or decrease the effect of the health hazard. An order to close will be accompanied by legal action against the establishment.
  • A premise receiving an order from an Inspector may not reopen until such time that all conditions on the order have been met. Failure to adhere to an Order to Close will lead to additional charges.
  • It is the operator’s responsibility to keep their premise closed when ordered to do so by the health unit. When all conditions have been met, the owner/operator must contact their Inspector, who will return to re-inspect the premise. If the Inspector is satisfied that the health hazard has been removed, he/she will re-open the premise. If the conditions at the time of re-inspections still constitute a health hazard, the premise will remain closed and red on OPH’s website.

The disclosure trial will be online only and will be in effect for at least one year to allow all food premises the opportunity to be inspected under the trial system. During this trial period, OPH will be encouraging Ottawa residents and visitors to provide feedback. Feedback mechanisms for other groups, including the public, will be set-up in the coming months to ensure everyone wishing to provide their input have the opportunity to do so.

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FAQs

What does a green, yellow or red rating mean?

A green rating means that a premise has been inspected, and is approved for operation.

A yellow rating means that a premise has been inspected, is approved for operation, but legal enforcement action has been taken as a result of infractions observed during that inspection.

A red rating means a premise has been closed due to the immediate presence of a health hazard.

Where will the results of inspections be displayed?

For the next year, OPH will conduct a one-year online trial. Inspection results will continue to be displayed on OPH’s food premises disclosure website. The colour of the inspection will be connected with the date on which a Public Health Inspector visited the premises.

When will the results of inspections be posted?

Inspection results are uploaded to the website within two business days after they are completed and remain online for two years.

What does legal action mean?

Legal action can include a range of penalties such as a premise receiving a ticket for not complying with food safety regulations, or receiving a summons to appear in court for continued non-compliance. A yellow posting will identify premises whose food safety practices have resulted in legal action.

If a food premise is closed and receives a red rating, will they also receive a ticket?

Yes. When an immediate or potential health risk with considerable negative health impact is identified, an Order to Close, as well as a ticket, will be issued to the food premise. Exceptions may occur when a premise is forced to close for reasons outside of their control, such as a water main being shut off.

Why is OPH using a green/yellow/red disclosure trial?

At the direction of the Ottawa Board of Health, OPH looked at a number of different disclosure systems, eventually picking a model  that provides a clear food safety picture to the public and which also provides positive reinforcement to those premises demonstrating good food safety practices.  

Will green/yellow/red signs be posted at the front of restaurants in Ottawa?

The disclosure trial will be online only and will be in effect for at least one year to allow all food premises the opportunity to be inspected under the trial system. During this trial period, OPH will be encouraging Ottawa residents and visitors to provide feedback. To start, OPH is inviting food premise operators to visit HaveYourSayOttawa.ca to provide their input. Feedback mechanisms for other groups, including the public, will be set-up in the coming months to ensure everyone wishing to provide their input have the opportunity to do so.

How long will a red/yellow/green colour remain on a food premise’s online inspection report?

OPH displays the results of inspections online for two years. Subsequent inspections will show the colour that reflects the results of that particular inspection.

Will the new trial colour rating system change the way inspections are done?

No,  Public Health Inspectors will continue to inspect food premises to ensure compliance with Ontario Regulation 562 (food premises). The frequency food premises are inspected is based on a risk assessment, conducted by the Inspector, that determines the risk of a premise and the number of times it is required to be inspected each year, as outlined in the infraction chart.

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