The Lowdown On Restaurant Inspections

Before we start sharing reports from health department inspectors, Patch offers up a primer of inspection expectations.

When you’re cooking in your own kitchen, you clean it, wash your fruits and veggies and closely monitor how thoroughly cooked your food is. Can you say you know the same about your favorite restaurant in Creve Coeur?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six people get sick from eating contaminated food annually. Furthermore, the CDC reports that the norovirus and salmonella are the most common pathogens that lead to disease with 58 percent and 11 percent, respectively, resulting in illness. 

From time to time, Creve Coeur Patch will feature a roundup of inspections on commercial kitchens and restaurants in the area. 

We’ll inform you of the grade, the concerns and the follow-up inspections.

To make sure readers are able to understand the inspections and processes, we did an an electronic interview with Gerrin Cheek Butler, program manager for the St. Louis County Department of Health Restaurant Inspection Program.

Butler gave insight into how inspections are performed and how they achieve their ratings: 

Creve Coeur Patch: How often are inspections done?

Gerrin Cheek Butler: Inspections are risk based. The inspector assigns a number between 1 to 4, with the number indicating the number of times per year a food establishment will be inspected. This is based on the extent of the food preparation, the type of food handling, and past performance at the food establishment.

Creve Coeur Patch: How does a restaurant achieve its grade?

Butler: Violations are assigned points based on severity. Those points are then subtracted from a possible 100. The grading system is as follows:

A = 100-90; B = 80-89; C = 79-70

Creve Coeur Patch: What triggers a follow-up inspection?

Butler: Having an uncorrected violation can trigger a follow-up inspection.

Creve Coeur Patch: How often do restaurants pass off the first time?

Butler: Ninety-five percent or more pass inspection the first time.

Creve Coeur Patch: What does each grade say about the restaurants?

Butler: The grade says that the food establishment has a score that is within the range as noted above.

Creve Coeur Patch: What percentage of restaurants fail inspections? What happens with those?

Butler: Only a small percentage (5 percent) fail inspection. If a food establishment fails an inspection with no violations that lead directly to food-borne illness, then we work with them to gain compliance through a compliance schedule. Violations that would lead to food-borne illness may require that a food establishment be closed until the violation is corrected.

Creve Coeur Patch: What are some of the most common problems for St. Louis County restaurants as far as inspections?

Butler: The most common violation is lack of Hepatitis A vaccination records.

Creve Coeur Patch: How many inspections, on average, are done each year?

Butler: Approximately 10,000.

Creve Coeur Patch: How is the determination made to do an inspection on a currently existing restaurant? Are inspections for newer restaurants performed on a certain basis?

Butler: All food establishments are assigned a risk category as noted above.

Creve Coeur Patch: How are inspections performed?

Butler: All inspections are done in-person visually by one of our inspectors. These inspections are surprise inspections—no forewarning is given to the establishment.

Is there a particular restaurant inspection report you'd like to see?


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