So what's really going on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant? You hear horror stories, but you never really know. Heck, maybe you don't want to know. But those that do can view and search a detailed database of Oklahoma restaurant inspection reports, giving you a clear picture of a restaurant's food safety history. The following will give you information on how to find and understand health reports for restaurants across the state.
State of Oklahoma Food Service Rules:
The Oklahoma Department of Health's Consumer Protection Division is responsible for licensing and inspecting all eating and drinking establishments in the state. They maintain a detailed set of rules online for public food service entities, covering everything from employee illnesses and cleanliness to cooking temperatures and specific containment policies for every type of food you can imagine. All restaurants in Oklahoma are held to these standards and, in their effort to safeguard the public health, the Consumer Protection Division conducts inspections on a regular basis.
During an inspection, the official will document any violations of the state's food service rules. If "imminent health hazards" exists, conditions such as sewage backup, lack of hot water or presence of a number of insects or rodents, the establishment must cease operations until the issue is corrected. Otherwise, the restaurant is given a time frame for correcting any health violations, not to exceed 90 days. The results of the inspections are made public in an online state database.
Search the Restaurant Inspections Database:
The Oklahoma State Health Department's inspections database is easily searchable. Officials recommend not placing too much weight on one individual inspection but rather looking at the history as a whole. To search, simply select the county in which the restaurant is located and type the restaurant name in the search box, leaving out apostrophes.
Understanding the Results:
Unfortunately, Oklahoma doesn't make inspection reports too easy to read, or even provide simple health scores as some other states do. So you need to understand a few important things about the restaurant inspection report:
- Inspection dates are listed, and reports go back many years.
- It is a good idea to have the above food service rules handy in order to decipher specific violations.
- Highlighted items are issues directly related to causes of foodborne illnesses. These include violations of storage temperatures, food handling and even hand washing.
- Non-highlighted items may be issues such as improper posting of consumer advisories, equipment problems, building disrepair or even unclean wiping cloths.
- If you have questions about any of the inspections, you should contact your county health department.
Filing a Complaint:
If you have witnessed a health violation in an Oklahoma restaurant, you can file a complaint with the state. The form is available for download and should be faxed to (405) 271-3458 or mailed to:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Consumer Protection Division
1000 N.E. 10th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1299
For more information, call (405) 271-5243.