Health officials nearly halfway done with Oahu restaurant inspections

Local News

Hawaii is seven months into the state’s food safety rating program and nearly half the restaurants on Oahu have been inspected.

But a website to notify the public which restaurants have passed inspection is still in the works.

Peter Oshiro of the state Department of Health says it will take another six months to get to all the restaurants on Oahu, and it will likely take that long to get that website running.

The department says 2,600 restaurants have been inspected on Oahu out of about 6,000, and about 26 percent of them, or roughly 600, were given yellow placards, or a conditional pass.

Panya Bistro was one of them. Owner Alice Yeung says the inspections are tough but fair.

“It’s good because the restaurant business needs to be like that to have the right temperature and to have the food, the sanitation and everything, so it’s good,” she said.

The health department says the first few months have taken longer as expected because inspectors need to explain a lot more to the restaurant owners.

Full-service restaurants were inspected first, because they’re considered higher risk.

The Department of Health also said it wanted to get to the full-service restaurants first, because those inspections take longer, so from here on the inspections should go a lot faster.

“So these inspections typically take three to four times longer than someone like small ice cream shop or just a cookie store so a full-on banquet kitchen might take two hours to inspect versus a half-hour for a real simple operation,” Oshiro said.

Oshiro adds that the state will also hire six more inspectors which should also speed up the process.

As far as getting the website running, Oshiro says the state agreed to a new contractor and cut ties with the previous one because it could not deliver.

The new company, Digital Health Department, will be paid a start up and licensing fee of $100,000, and another $60,000 a year to maintain the website. With about 10,000 restaurants in the state, Oshiro says he made sure that the new vendor is capable of handling the type of data Hawaii needs.

“We made sure that the new vendor coming in has working governmental regulatory systems with counties and jurisdictions that at least have 10,000 establishments so there are at least as large as ours so we’re very confident that this next vendor will work out,” Oshiro said.

As far as the 10,000 restaurants in the state, Oshiro says it will probably take until the end of the year to inspect all of them.

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