Fla. restaurants to be inspected differently

Risk-based inspection system will take into account menus, past violations

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Restaurants have more changes to look forward to this year when it comes to inspections.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The way health inspectors look over restaurants in the state is changing. The agency in charge of inspections said it's all about efficiency.

The 48,000 licensed restaurants in the state will be inspected a little differently starting next week. The risk-based inspection system will take into account menus and past violations.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association said it didn't make sense to inspect a street vendor and a five-star eatery the same amount of times.

"There's very little that can go wrong with a hot dog cart, not a lot of people served that day, very limited menu, very limited preparation. Contrast that with what you'd consider for food service in a medical setting," said Geoff Luebkemann, vice president of FRLA.

The state said the changes will save time and money.

"The new risk-based system actually makes good business sense for our licensees, but also for Florida taxpayers," said Beth Frady, of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. "It allows the department to hone their efforts on those, those establishments that may need a little more assistance."

Restaurants with a confirmed foodborne illness in the last year will be inspected at least four times. Most others will be at least two or one.

Backwoods Bistro owner Jesse Rice said random check-ins come with the territory.

"Sure, it makes sense," said Rice. "There's a lot more that comes out of this restaurant than a hot dog stand and should be inspected more often, I'd say."

The state said that only 20 restaurants out of 48,000 had foodborne illness problems this past year.

Along with the new guidelines, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation said a restaurant will be inspected every time a consumer complaint is received.

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