PORTLAND – The city is starting a new campaign to inform restaurant owners about food safety requirements.

Public Health Director Julie Sullivan sent an email to more than 300 restaurant owners Thursday announcing a second round of informational forums, along with a list of the most common code violations.

The city is poised to adopt the state’s food code as well as increased fees for re-inspections of failing food establishments.

Last year, the city hired its first full-time health inspector devoted to restaurant inspections. From August 2011 to August 2012, nearly 80 percent of the 49 restaurants that were inspected failed. Six businesses were closed down because the violations were considered an imminent public health risk, including the Porthole restaurant, which had a rat infestation.

The most frequent violations cited in Sullivan’s email include:

• Failure to self-report fires, floods or disruptions in electrical service. After such an event, a restaurant must be inspected before it can reopen.

• Pesticide application by unlicensed professionals.

• Out-of-date business licenses.

• Non-service animals in establishments, including outdoor eating areas.

• Failure to comply with the state smoking law.

Sullivan’s email includes copies of the state food code and laws governing smoking and service animals. She also included the Top 13 Healthy Food Handling Practices.

Five forums, starting at 6 p.m. at City Hall, were announced for Nov. 13, Dec. 18, Jan. 15, Feb. 19 and March 19.

The city has already held five forums, with attendance ranging from three to 18 people.

There are about 800 eateries in Portland, which by law must be inspected every two years.

 

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings


Correction: This story was revised at 1:07 p.m., Oct. 26, 2012, to state that the city is poised to adopt the state’s food code as well as increased fees for re-inspections of failing food establishments.