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PH Logo Frequently Asked Questions About Licensed Establishment Inspections 


What are Licensed Food Establishments?
How often are Food Establishments Inspected?
Are there Different Types of Inspections?
What Types of Violations are there? 
What Happens after an Inspection?
Who can I call if I have Questions about Food Inspections in Ramsey County?
How can I see the Health Department Inspection Report?

What are Licensed Food Establishments?   
"Food Establishments" are defined in the Ramsey County Food Protection Ordinance (pdf) as restaurants, boarding houses, taverns, cafeterias, delicatessens, snack bars, grocery stores, convenience stores, caterers, clubs, public and private schools, day care centers, and similar establishments where food or beverages are prepared or served for consumption on the premises or immediate consumption off the premises.

How Often are Food Establishments Inspected?   
The frequency of inspection is determined by the type of food establishment.  All establishments are inspected at least once every year.  Food establishments are classified according to their "risk".  There are three (3) risk levels:

  • A High Risk food establishment serves foods that require extensive processing on the premises, including manual handling, cooling, reheating, or temporary holding for service; prepares foods several hours or days before service; or serves menu items that are known to be common vehicles of food-borne illness.
  • A Medium Risk food establishment serves foods that are more likely to cause a food-borne illness but have little hand-to-food contact between preparation and service; or serves food, like pizza, that requires extensive handling followed by thorough cooking.
  • A Low Risk food establishment sells prepared or packaged foods with limited hand-to-food contact.

Are there Different Types of Inspections? 
there are different kinds of inspections:

  • Routine:  May be an announced or unannounced inspection.  An inspector will do a complete inspection covering all items in the ordinance.
  • Follow-up:  A re-inspection for the specific purpose of inspecting items that were problems at the time of the routine inspection.  The inspector visits the establishment to see that the problems discussed in the last inspection have been corrected.
  • Other:  The inspector may visit the establishment when there is construction, a complaint, illness, disaster, or other reasons.

What Types of Violations are there? 

  • Critical Violations:  Violations which are most likely to cause food-borne illness. Examples of critical violations include poor temperature control of food or improper cooking, cooling, refrigeration or reheating temperatures.  Such problems can create environments that cause bacteria to grow and thrive, which puts the customer at risk for food-borne illness.
  • Non-Critical Violations:  Violations not directly related to the cause of food-borne illness.  Non-critical violations, if left uncorrected, could lead to critical violations.  Examples of non-critical violations include poor cleaning, equipment design and construction problems, and improper waste storage and disposal.

Establishments are not scored or graded.  Inspectors look for the number of critical and non-critical violations.

What Happens after an Inspection? 
At the end of the inspection, a report is written which explains any violations observed, the requirement in the Ramsey County Food Protection Ordinance and the Minnesota Food Code, and sets a time by which the violation must be corrected.  This report is left with the manager or person-in-charge at the time of the inspection.

The inspector meets with the manager or person-in-charge to review the report and discusses corrections of the violations observed.  Critical items, requiring immediate correction, are discussed.  Any questions from the manager are answered and educational information is provided.

A follow-up inspection may be conducted to make sure all violations found during the routine inspection were corrected.

Reminder:  an inspection report is a snapshot of the day and time of the inspection.  On any given day, an establishment could have more or fewer violations than noted here.  An inspection conducted on any given day may not be representative of the overall, long-term operation of an establishment.  Also, at the time of the inspection violations are recorded but are often corrected right away, before the inspector leaves the establishment.

Who can I call if I have Questions about Food Inspections in Ramsey County? 
The authority for city and county public health departments to inspect food establishments is provided through delegation agreements with the Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture. There are four (4) delegated authorities in Ramsey County.  You should contact the licensing agency for the food establishment in question.  They are:

For the City of Saint Paul:
Office of Licensing, Inspection and Environmental Protection (LIEP)

For the City of Maplewood:
Community Development Department

For all other cities and townships in Ramsey County:
Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health
Environmental Health Section
2785 White Bear Avenue, Suite 350
Maplewood, MN  55109-1320

How can I see the Health Department Inspection Report? 
Food establishment reports and most other government documents are classified as public information under State law.  You may see these reports in the office of the inspecting agency (above).  It is best to call ahead if you want to see an inspection report.

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