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By law, food service establishments (this includes bars, restaurants, etc.) operating in Kentucky are required to have a permit to operate. These permits are issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. In Madison County, the Health Department issues food permits on behalf of the state.
One of the requirements for a permit is that the establishment must be inspected regularly. This is done by a registered sanitarian, commonly known as a health inspector.
The inspections are conducted based upon items related to general sanitation and food safety. They are done twice a year, unless otherwise needed (for example, a restaurant having a food safety/sanitation complaint may be inspected more than twice in one year. Also, establishments that only operate for a short period of time during the year may only receive one inspection each year).
The inspections are typically unannounced---the establishment does not know ahead of time when the inspection will take place. The exception to this is in cases where it is necessary to schedule an inspection due to an establishment’s hours of operation or for other establishments that are not open to the public on a walk-in basis.
The purpose of the inspections is to assure that the food is being properly handled and protected when stored, prepared, displayed, served and transported. Inspectors observe various aspects of a food service operation including:
Scores: What Do They Mean?
Inspections involve a report containing 58 potential items of violation, each of which is assigned a point value based on how it can affect a person’s health. The point values range from one to three, with one being least severe and three being most severe.
Most of the items on the inspection are weighted at one or two points and are characterized as “non-critical” violations. Others are considered a higher threat and are characterized as “critical” violations.
An example of a non-critical violation is a hand washing sink in an establishment that is dirty or a refrigerator that doesn’t have a thermometer provided in or on it to monitor the temperature inside.
An example of a critical violation is an employee failing to use a hand sink, whether dirty or not; failure to wash hands between handling raw chicken and cutting up vegetables for use in salad; or potentially hazardous food items stored at a temperature above 41 degrees Fahrenheit inside a refrigerator that is not cooling properly due to a mechanical failure, whether a thermometer is present or not.
To calculate an establishment’s final score, the total of the points for all violations marked is subtracted from a total point value of 100. An establishment is considered to have passed its routine inspection if a score of 85% or above is received with no critical violations noted. An establishment that scores below 85% or receives a critical violation debit fails its inspection.
Generally, follow-up inspections are necessary within 10 days if an establishment has any critical violations or within 30 days if it has a total score below 85 without critical violations. Follow-up inspections can be conducted on the same visit, if the problem is something the restaurant staff can correct immediately. A food establishment can also require more than one follow-up inspection. Some violations may warrant immediate correction.
In any case, if the total score received is below 70, more immediate enforcement measures are taken involving imminent or immediate suspension of the establishment’s permit. Scores below 70 may require administrative actions, including conferences with officials from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, which may result in later follow-up dates. The food establishment may be required to close during this time period. If you have questions about a particular situation, you may request the complete inspection report by calling Environmental Health Services at 859-626-4249.
Here is a list of food service establishments in Madison County with the dates of their recent regular inspections, any follow-up inspections if needed, and the scores associated with them.
Please keep in mind that the inspection scores only represent the conditions present at the time of the inspection. Conditions in a restaurant as well as other types of food service establishments can change from hour-to-hour and day-to-day.