Say you're visiting Long Island and you want to know how safe and clean a certain restaurant is. Or you just moved to the area, and you need help choosing a good, convenient restaurant that's close to home. How can you tell if your chosen restaurant is clean? Do you know if it has been cited for any health code violations?
These are great questions, and you can find the answer on a publicly accessible database.
There are more than 4,500 food service establishments in Suffolk County, the largest, wealthiest and easternmost county on Long Island, New York. All these establishments operate under permit to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. This department makes periodic visits to restaurants, and the results of their inspections are available free to the public on the department's online database.
To access the database, consult Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Restaurant Inspection Information.
Once you're in the database, you can search to see information about the last inspection that was performed in each food establishment listed. You can search by the name of the restaurant. Or you can search by the name of a town, village or hamlet to see just how clean and safe their restaurants are.
After you type in the name of the dining establishment, click on the link. You will then be able to read about the last inspection for that restaurant or food service establishment. It will either say "No critical violations were found," or in the case of violations, the violations will be posted. In the latter case, you can click on each violation and obtain the public health reasons behind the violation. This will give you a better understanding of the problem and the science behind the restaurant's need to comply.
The official website says: "Critical violations are violations that are more likely than other violations to be associated with foodborne illness." The site also informs you that "New York State law requires that all food and beverage establishments be smoke-free."