Callaway County ponders changes in restaurant closures, fees

After a listeria outbreak in other areas, Callaway County is considering restaurant inspection changes allowing the county to raise certain restaurant inspection fees and to close restaurants with dangerous food preparation violations.

Callaway County Eastern District Commissioner Gabe Craighead said at the request of the Health Department, the county is considering a policy change to authorize closure of a restaurant that repeatedly fails county inspections.

“Our current policy is that after a county inspector decides a restaurant has unsafe sanitary conditions, the matter is turned over to state health inspectors who make the decision to order the restaurant to close,” Caighead said.

But state inspectors are overloaded with inspection requests, and often forcing delays before the state acts.

Craighead said this allows the restaurant to continue operating and that could be dangerous. He cited the recent outbreak of deadly listeria as one reason not to delay closing restaurants deemed unsafe.

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