May 19, 2013

Maine inspection rule among least restrictive in U.S.

But with recent cuts to health departments, rules may not reflect what's happening.

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Who inspects: State and five municipalities

How often: Every two years

Where are results: Only available by request


Who inspects: State and 16 municipalities

How often: No statewide policy, but try for every two years; local guidelines vary

Where are results: Statewide online database isn’t working; Manchester posts online


Who inspects: Municipal health officials

How often: Twice per year

Where are results: Some towns, e.g., Brookline, post scores in restaurants; Boston posts online


Who inspects: State

How often: No state policy, try for once per year

Where are results: Statewide online database

Hawaii, however, recently adopted a Web-based inspection system and will open it to the public when more data have been entered, said Peter Oshiro, director of the sanitation branch in the state's Department of Health.

The department is also moving toward inspecting restaurants three times a year instead of every two years or less, which Oshiro called "totally unacceptable." In addition, it has proposed requiring restaurants to post green, yellow or red placards with inspection results for customers to see.

Cities or counties in at least a dozen states, not including Maine, require inspection results or cleanliness letter grades to hang in a conspicuous place inside restaurants.

In Georgia, the most recent inspection report must be "prominently displayed" within 15 feet of the main entrance and between 5 and 7 feet from the ground, according to the state's food service rules.

A city ordinance in St. Louis requires each restaurant to post a decal with a letter grade from its inspection. Establishments face a $500 fine and downgrading if the decal is defaced, hidden or removed.

In Maine, the rules require only that restaurants provide their latest inspection reports to customers who ask to see them. Reports also can be requested from the state.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at


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