THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
BYLINE: RUDOLPH BUSH, Staff Writer email@example.com
Dallas City Hall is slowly catching up on inspecting the city’s 6,100 restaurants, food trucks and convenience stores, but a good deal of work remains before it meets a requirement to inspect every establishment twice a year.
A City Council committee was updated Monday on the city’s scramble to fill gaps in its restaurant inspection staff that led to a serious decline in the frequency of inspections performed in Dallas.
In February, a news report showed that, since 2009, the city had failed to inspect, even one time, more than 200 restaurants.
Those inspections were quickly performed. But, under its own code, the city is supposed to inspect restaurants twice annually.
Assistant City Manager Joey Zapata told council members Monday that the city will fulfill that requirement sometime in the coming fiscal year.
“We’ve gotten to this point by staffing up and getting an outside vendor,” Zapata said.
The city now has 15 licensed “sanitarians,” the state’s term for a trained restaurant inspector. It was down to six late last year.
In October, the council will be asked to approve funding to hire an additional five sanitarians.
The city is also planning to require that all restaurant workers who handle food undergo training in safe handling.
The council will have to approve the requirement, and it’s not yet clear how the training would proceed or what it would cost food workers to undergo.
Zapata indicated it could help improve the overall safety of food in restaurants, noting that many cities around Dallas already require it.
“Right now every food establishment has to have a registered food service manager. There’s one person on point that goes through an annual training and is responsible for watching everyone else,” he said.
Only if a restaurant is found to have a “critical violation” of the city’s sanitary requirements is everyone in the restaurant required to undergo food handling training.
That could change soon.
“What we’re saying is take it one step further. Don’t wait for the violation. Do what other cities in Texas are doing where you require everyone to take that training beforehand,” Zapata said.
Copyright 2012 THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS