Is your food safe? New app shows you Pa. restaurant inspections |

Is your food safe? New app shows you Pa. restaurant inspections

Stephen Huba
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recently launched the EatSafePA mobile app, which gives smartphone users access to restaurant inspection reports. The app is available for free at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Want to know whether the restaurant you’re visiting has had any recent inspection violations?

There’s an app for that.

The EatSafePA mobile app recently launched by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture allows restaurant patrons to access inspection reports by restaurant name, nearby establishments or ZIP code.

The free app, available in the Apple App Store for iPhones and the Google Play Store for Android phones, is part of the department’s mission to protect the public and regulate retail food establishments, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.

“Food safety is our top priority — it affects all Pennsylvanians,” Redding said. “EatSafePA gives Pennsylvanians easy access to the latest restaurant inspections no matter where they are in the commonwealth, allowing them to dine with confidence.”

Inspections are handled by the department’s Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services, and reports are searchable online.

Restaurants and other retail food facilities are inspected when they initially open or change ownership, after remodeling and once annually thereafter via an unannounced inspection. Inspections are prompted by public complaints. It is those inspections that are available in full via EatSafePA, the department said.

State food inspectors oversee 45,000 retail food facilities statewide, including restaurants, fair vendors, farm markets, grocery stores and school cafeterias. It is unclear whether the app gives access to inspection reports from local health departments.

Restaurant inspections in Greater Pittsburgh are handled by the Allegheny County Health Department’s Food Safety Division.

In Westmoreland County, the cities of Arnold, Greensburg, Lower Burrell, Monessen and New Kensington, and the boroughs of New Alexandria, Trafford and West Leechburg have health departments that have jurisdiction over retail food establishments.

The rest of Westmoreland County is covered by the state Department of Agriculture’s Region 4.

A department disclaimer notes restaurant inspections are “a ‘snapshot’ of the day and time of the inspection. An inspection conducted on any given day may not be representative of the overall, long-term cleanliness of an establishment. Also, at the time of the inspection, violations are recorded but are often corrected on-site prior to the inspector leaving the establishment.”

Violations normally are separated into two categories: foodborne illness risk factors and good retail practices.

An example of the former, found on the EatSmartPA app, is “paper towel dispenser empty at the handwash sink in the food prep area.” An example of the latter is “observed consumer display of baklava and scones without sneeze guards or other effective protection.”

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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