Roach-free dining aided by new state website
AMSTERDAM Health inspectors who found living quarters too close to the kitchen at an Amsterdam buffet also discovered another issue during a Jan. 25 inspection: Pets and birds weren’t being kept away from the kitchen either.
Insects and rodents found at an Amsterdam Chinese restaurant; unclean surfaces and no running water in a Town of Glen hot dog eatery; and dirty toilets with inadequate hand-washing equipment at a Cobleskill bar are among a host of violations local health inspectors lodged against eateries so far this year.
A new online feature introduced by the state earlier this month gives users a detailed list of restaurants and other food service establishments, descriptions of their most-recent inspections, and sheds some light on the ways health officials work to minimize people’s exposure to food borne illnesses.
The new database — titled “Like to Dine Out?” — is among several features of the “Open.ny.gov” website announced March 11 by the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo announced the state data transparency website and issued an executive order to state agencies requiring they review and catalog data they collect and work toward making that information available to the public as well.
The Open.ny.gov website brings together information on professional medical conduct discipline, comprehensive health reporting data, detail on recreational opportunities and information about daycare and mental health services residents can use to find help.
The food safety information comes in the form of a searchable map allowing users to pinpoint their area of interest. Once that area is clicked, a short search starts and then inspection information pops up below the map. It covers inspections at restaurants, snack bars, soup kitchens, school district cafeterias and neighborhood clubs.
The Schoharie County Public Health Department’s website now features a link to the state’s “Like to Dine Out?” database.
Schoharie County deputy public health director Ian Feinstein, in an e-mail Wednesday, said people had to request this information in writing before the state opened up the new web feature.
“This user-friendly electronic format makes data on restaurant inspections easily accessible; in turn, aiding them in making an informed, data-driven decision on where they choose to eat,” he said in the e-mail.
Feinstein said the department’s Environmental Health division “holds its facilities to the highest standards of the New York State Sanitary Code.” “We take pride in knowing that each and every restaurant in this county is a safe place to eat and compliant with our department,” he said.
People looking through the inspection details will find a variety of interesting information about some eateries, including:
u Many restaurants and other food-service establishments are cited for not having thermometers available to ensure hot foods are maintained at a temperature high enough to kill bacteria.
u Food inspectors have a name for unopened cans that are oozing: “leakers.” One facility cited in Niskayuna was found to have leakers, cans with severe dents and others that were “swollen.”
u A Schenectady eatery was found to be serving shellfish “not from an approved source.” It’s unclear from the inspection information where the shellfish originated.
The website can be found at https://health.data.ny.gov/.