Contra Costa Health Department Releases Free Restaurant Inspection App for Smartphones
April 15, 2013
Consumers now can see inspection results for local restaurants on their smartphones thanks to California Food Inspector, a new app from Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) for iPhones and Android phones.
The free app was developed by the county health services department's Environmental Health Division, whose trained food-safety specialists conduct thousands of unannounced restaurant inspections in Contra Costa County every year to prevent foodborne illnesses.
The app allows users to search inspection results for 4,200 food facilities — including everything from restaurants to coffee shops to ice cream vendors — in the county over the past five years. The inspection histories show what violations food facilities have been instructed to fix.
A "Closures" button on the app also lists which eateries in the county have been forced to temporarily close their doors to correct serious violations that pose an imminent threat to their customers' health. Using a mobile phone's GPS, consumers can also scan restaurants near their current location and compare the health-safety records of those venues.
The app's release is the latest example of CCHS' commitment to making information readily accessible to the public. Restaurant inspection results, for instance, have been on the department's website for many years. But with the release of this new mobile app, the information will now be available to the public in an even more convenient fashion, said Environmental Health Director Marilyn Underwood, PhD.
Underwood said she expects the app will give restaurant owners more incentive to practice good food-safety techniques so they maintain a clean inspection record.
"Hopefully, eating out in Contra Costa County will be even more safe now because of this app," Dr. Underwood said.
While there are third-party apps offering mobile access to restaurant inspection results, CCHS is the first public health agency in California to develop its own smartphone app. Dr. Underwood expects other jurisdictions will want to make their inspection information available on the California Food Inspector app and encourages other departments to contact her.
The CCHS Environmental Health Division attempts to inspect all food facilities in the county twice each year. Results from routine inspections are uploaded weekly; closure information is updated every evening.
To learn more about California Food Inspector, visit the iTunes store to see a detailed description of the app.
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