The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals is pressuring state legislators to raise the fees charged to license restaurants to pay for more restaurant inspections.
Health Department deputy director Dean Learner says some counties have stopped doing restaurant inspections because the fees don’t cover the cost. Learner says the state now does those inspections. He says that means the number of establishments they have to inspect has doubled. He says they have had to take their same nine inspectors and spread them thin to get the job done.
Learner says they’ve also cut back on the number of inspections. He says to adjust they’ve gone down to one inspection a year instead of two inspections a year, or a “risk based” inspection based on the level of risk for the establishment.
Learner says the drop in inspections should be a concern for lawmakers. He says there is a correlation between the number of inspections and a decreased incidence of food borne illness. Learner is urging lawmakers to double the fees that currently run from 50 to 225 dollars a year depending on the size of the restaurant. Learner says if the fees aren’t increased, more counties are likely to drop the inspections and leave them to the state.