Today, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announced that all food safety inspections conducted since January 1, 2007 are now available to the public on its Web site. Consumers may search the online inspection database to view past inspections or create a personal account that allows them to select individual establishments for which they would like to receive future inspection reports (e.g. restaurants or school lunch programs). When inspections are conducted in the selected facilities, an e-mail notification will be automatically sent with a link to the inspection report.

These online reports are launched in conjunction with a new food safety certification program, through which HEALTH will partner with NSF International to recognize restaurants and food service establishments that have the best food safety, workplace safety, and sanitation practices in place. NSF International is an independent, non-profit organization that develops best practices for food safety.

To obtain the Dine Safer certification, establishments must submit a plan to NSF that addresses all Federal and State regulations as well as best practices in food safety. If NSF accepts the plan, their auditors will conduct on-site inspections to verify that the plan is implemented and followed. If so, the establishment will be issued a license to use the NSF Mark in conjunction with Dine Safer certification. NSF then conducts surveillance through regular, unannounced inspections to ensure ongoing adherence to the approved food safety plan. Restaurants, markets, and other food establishments can now enroll in the Dine Safer certification program at the above Web site. HEALTH will recognize on its Web site those places achieving certification.

These two new initiatives will provide important information to Rhode Island residents when deciding where to eat and purchase food.

"People have a right to know what our inspectors find when they are out in the field," said Director of Health, David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. "Making inspection reports available online will help us provide better customer service to the pubic. In addition, this new certification program provides an additional incentive for the food industry to continually provide the safest, highest quality food possible for consumers."