Health Department staff help local food vendors understand regulations and standards in the Missouri Food Code and the Christian County Food Ordinance. Staff inspect area food establishments at least twice each year to evaluate their compliance with state and local food handling safety regulations.
The Missouri Food Code defines a food establishment and provides guidance and regulations on how they must operate in order to protect the public from foodborne illness. It emphasizes science-based food safety practices like temperature control, handwashing, proper cooling, and internal cooking temperature.
In addition, Christian County maintains local regulations (Christian County Food Ordinance) that offer guidance on issues specific to the county. Food establishments receive surprise inspections on a time-based rotation to ensure compliance with local and state food safety regulations. The results of these inspections are posted at the Health Department and are available to the public online.
Food inspectors look for unsanitary conditions, insect or rodent droppings, proper trash disposal, proper water temperature for dishwashing, and many other items. They also check cooking temperatures, hot and cold food holding temperatures, and refrigeration temperatures. During the inspection, any Food Code violations are classified as either priority violations or core violations.
Priority violations should be corrected as soon as possible, and may warrant a second inspection. Some priority violations may be severe enough for the inspector to close the establishment immediately due to a severe health hazard. Priority violations may include bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food, food not being held at proper temperatures, or evidence of rodents.
Core violations are things like dirty floors, food stored on the floor, or no hair restraints worn by food workers. Core violations will usually be expected to be corrected before the next regular inspection.
Food establishments earn a food score (based on a perfect score of 100) at each inspection. This score is to be clearly displayed in a public area for the consumer's information and convenience. Community members and visitors are encouraged to be informed consumers and review the most recent food inspection scores for establishments before dining out.