WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) – We rarely hear about the Winnebago County Health Department shutting a restaurant down. That’s because it rarely happens. 23 News Reporter Shannon Smith takes us inside a local kitchen to see how inspectors make sure our dinner plate is safe.
From testing food temperatures to checking how well dirty dishes are cleaned, it’s up to inspectors like Gail Goldman to make sure our meal is safe enough to eat, before we take our first bite.
“If a customer calls in with a complaint, then we address that facility sooner than we would on a routine basis,” said Goldman.
We caught up with Goldman as she inspected Vito’s restaurant on Bell School Road. She’s been doing this for 20 years for the Winnebago County Health Department. Vito’s has never been cited, but at other restaurants, Goldman says customers complain about everything from dirty floors to bad customer service.
“We come in with an attitude that we want to help and we want to make sure that ewe have a safe environment for the public,” Goldman said.
The Health Department oversees more than 1,700 facilities like restaurants and public housing. Most are clean and actually fewer than 5% have ever been cited.
“If the sewer backs up or a major issue or if a system goes off your fire system, I’d voluntarily close down, because they’d close you down if you didn’t. You’re better off to correct things,” said Vito Olszewski, owner of Vito’s Restaurant.
“Most operators want to cooperate, they want a safe, sanitary facility and they want customers to come back and happy.”
Goldman says that makes her job a lot easier.
If a restaurant violates any health codes, owners are given a 10-day notice to fix issues. We’re told most of them choose to close temporarily to fix the issue.