You have your Valentine's Day dinner reservation all locked down, right? And it's somewhere romantic? And you're sure it's not going to give you and your date food poisoning? Well, bad news kidos, as we learn today that that last bit may be even more beyond your control than you previously thought. You see, it seems that in many cases the weekly updated list of restaurant inspection scores is woefully out of date — and even if your go-to spot has a perfect score it may be so old as to longer be relevant. The San Francisco Department of Public Health has reportedly been so understaffed that it can't even maintain its own standards for restaurant inspection frequency.
So reports the San Francisco Business Times, which notes a shortage of health inspectors means that the goal of visiting SF restaurants at least once every six months to look for rats in your food goes frequently unmet. A quick check by the publication shows that Foreign Cinema (which we just called out for having a dope all-season patio), for example, was last inspected on March 26 of 2014. While we hasten to add that Foreign Cinema received a perfect score the last three times it was inspected, the point remains that an inspection score so out of date essentially becomes meaningless.
The Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Gwyneth Borden, agreed with this assessment in conversation with the Times.
“Although restaurants are supposed to be inspected every six months, some have gone 18 months without an inspection,” noted Borden. “This lapse of time means that the score is out of date, which is not of benefit to the restaurant or the consumer.”
A department spokesperson told the Business Times that, well, they're working on it.
“In the Bay Area, the food industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, from food trucks to brick-and-mortar restaurants,” explained Nancy Sarieh. “Currently the Environmental Health Branch is able to conduct routine inspections of restaurants in the City and County of San Francisco once per year.”
Er, well, almost once a year, anyway.
Perhaps more reassuringly, Sarieh noted that the Department hired ten more inspectors last month, and that with those hires it is much closer to meeting its goal of 29 health inspectors. The new employees, however, need to be trained and won't hit the mean streets of SF until March.
Until that time, well, bon appetit!