Curious how a favorite restaurant did on its last inspection? Ask at the restaurant or the local Health Department.

But don’t look online – it’s not there anymore, or yet.

Javin Bedard, environment health manager for the Grand Forks Public Health Department, said that although the records previously were available on the department’s website, it switched to a new data management system in July 2017, meaning those records are temporarily unavailable. He had expected them to become available on the state Department of Health’s website this summer.

“That functionality is coming,” he said. “It was supposed to be here in July, but it’s not here yet.”

The city announced the publication of restaurant scores online in June 2013. Julie Wagendorf, director of the state’s Division of Food and Lodging, said it’s expected online once again “by 2020.”

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“This system is a secured, web-based system and offers state users the capability for electronic data collection during inspections,” she told the Herald. “Local health departments are not required to use the state information management system but may opt in.”

Bedard said there are four positions at the local Health Department that share restaurant inspection duties, conducting annual inspections based on the type of sales. “Pre-packaged” and low-risk food sales get the least attention, while table-side service and more complex food preparation gets the most.

There were 369 “routine” inspections conducted for food service locations between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1, Bedard said, including at restaurants, schools, daycares that prepare food, food trucks and the like. Twelve had follow-up inspections, which are done when an inspector finds a specific “risk factor.”

Five establishments were re-inspected – which means they showed four or more specific types of risk factors. There also were four pre-operational inspections, for new establishments, and two complaint-initiated inspections, for a total of 392 inspections.

Bedard also provided a detailed set of statistics summarizing recent inspections and showing how often officials found items that weren’t up to code. Of those 369 routine inspections – and leaving out places like food trucks and childcare facilities – 25 did not have “adequate handwashing sinks properly supplied and accessible;” four failed to have “insects, rodents and animals not present” and two did not have “toilet facilities … properly constructed, supplied and cleaned.”

Bedard provided the statistics for the Herald as it worked to compile all local Health Department restaurant inspection results for the previous 12 months. The overall statistics provided by Bedard did not name individual establishments. The Herald will provide more detailed information when it becomes available.

In the meantime, should a resident want access to an inspection result, Bedard said they can simply ask the Health Department. “No need” to file an information request, he said. The local department’s number is 701-787-8100, and an individual report can be emailed “in minutes,” though larger sets of inspections may need more time to send, thus the delay on the Herald’s request earlier this week.

Among the most notable recent results of a health inspection was the closure of the Green Mill, 1930 S. Columbia Road, in May 2017 following an inspection that found, “moldy lemons and limes in the beer fridge” and weeks-old shrimp, according to Herald archives. The restaurant was shortly thereafter replaced at that location by Crooked Pint Ale House.

Blake Nordin, a field operations supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Health, provided electronic copies of results from 27 inspections conducted in East Grand Forks between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1. They show a total of 88 “orders” issued for correction, from hiring a “certified food protection manager” to adequately cleaning or replacing scratched cutting boards.

Nordin recommended that anyone seeking restaurant inspection results for the East Grand Forks area call the Minnesota Department of Health’s local district office at 218-308-2100. As with Grand Forks’ local department, small numbers of reports can be provided in a short amount of time, while larger requests may take several days and require a formal information request.