Is St. Joseph County Health Dept. ensuring food safety at restaurants?


The past year has seen plenty of discussion about the role that the St. Joseph County Health Department plays in ensuring public health during a pandemic.

But there’s been little talk about restaurant inspections, another of its responsibilities — and one where the department has fallen well short. The Board of Public Health, which oversees the department, has also neglected to take forceful steps. 

A recent Tribune report by Christian Sheckler detailed a shift in how the department handles restaurant violations, moving toward private meetings and away from public hearings. In recent years, the number of restaurants being closed for unsanitary conditions or ordered to answer publicly for the problems has plummeted. 

From 2014 through 2016, the department closed and held hearings for an average of 16 restaurants per year. The number then started dropping, down to zero last year. 

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