By Katie O’Donnell
Larimer County Community Relations and Public Information Supervisor
2020 brings updates to the statewide Retail Food Establishment Inspection Ratings. Effective the first of the year, Larimer County transitioned to the new rating for retail food establishment inspections. These new ratings are Pass, Re-inspect, and Closed.
The rating changes were made as a result of the passing of House Bill 19-1014 and Colorado Retail Food Program Requirements for Communicating Inspection Ratings which was included as part of that bill. The changes in communicating inspection ratings were done through a stakeholder process that included industry representatives, local public health agencies, and consumer focus groups.
“Over the past two years the restaurant industry, public health and consumers have worked collaboratively to develop a new retail food rating that accurately informs the consumer on the conditions of the establishment, said Tom Gonzales, MPH, Public Health Director for the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. The new rating system will be consistent across the state, with a goal to prevent foodborne illness in retail food establishments. We’re looking forward to continuing to grow our relationships with our retail food establishments to help keep our community safe.”
To provide transparency the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has provided inspection ratings to the public since the 1990’s and was the first County to provide ratings in Colorado. The pre-2020 ratings utilized a five-tier system from Excellent to Unacceptable. The new 2020 rating system utilizes a three-tier system Pass, Re-inspect, and Closed. The new tier “Closed” is determined when the retail food establishment has multiple critical violations representing a high risk for foodborne illness. The establishment must close operations until conditions and violations are corrected.
The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment focuses on education and compliance, working with food workers and owners to help create policies and processes to keep food safe and to prevent foodborne illness. The Health Department works with the establishment owners, staff, and food workers to ensure proper storage, preparation and service of their food. Education and guidance is provided around how to reduce foodborne illness risk factors that can cause outbreaks such as improper temperatures, dirty utensils and equipment, and employee health and hygiene.
To learn more about retail food inspections and ratings visit www.Larimer.org/food.