RESTAU­RANTS

The Covington News - - Lo­cal news -

score of 65 and GG’s Pizza & Wings with a score of 66.

Those restau­rants that re­ceived the above low scores and asked to be retested the next day all re­ceived much higher scores from the 90s to 100.

Nearly a year af­ter new state food ser­vice reg­u­la­tions took ef­fect, some lo­cal eater­ies are still clearly strug­gling to get used to the stricter rules, which re­quire among other things more mon­i­tor­ing of food tem­per­a­tures and fresh­ness and de­tailed pro­ce­dures for em­ployee hand wash­ing and the wear­ing of gloves when there is skin con­tact with food.

Most of the vi­o­la­tions that low scor­ing restau­rants were faulted for were for var­i­ous mi­nor items that all added up to a poor score, such as stor­ing cook­ing oil on the floor rather than 6 inches off of the ground, hav­ing var­i­ous food tem­per­a­tures off by a cou­ple of de­grees, em­ploy­ees not wash­ing their hands be­tween glove changes and em­ploy­ees han­dling raw food then touch­ing clean plates with­out wash­ing their hands first.

Ac­cord­ing to Ver­non Goins, pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for the East Metro Health District which in­cludes Gwin­nett, New­ton and Rock­dale coun­ties, there is no low num­ber that re­sults in the au­to­matic clo­sure of a restau­rant. State reg­u­la­tions au­tho­rize the clo­sure of a restau­rant for “re­peat and/or fla­grant vi­o­la­tions as well as when con­di­tions ex­ist that con­sti­tute an im­mi­nent health haz­ard.”

Restau­rants that earn a let­ter grade of ‘U,’ which is any score be­low 70, have to earn a ‘C’ or bet­ter within 10 days Stalvey’s Restau­rant Mamie’s Nagoya Waf­fle House #625 Pip­pins Lit­tle Phillies Burge Plan­ta­tion Mickey Dee’s GG’s Pizza & Wings or close. For a restau­rant to be re­opened af­ter clo­sure, they must con­tact the New­ton County Health De­part­ment for a re-in­spec­tion and then achieve a sat­is­fac­tory as­sess­ment.

“ Ini­tially we did see an in­crease in clo­sures statewide, but af­ter the first round of in­spec­tions, we have seen a steady in­crease in scores and thus a de­crease in clo­sures, as was ex­pected,” said Goins of how restau­rants have adapted to the new stricter health reg­u­la­tions.

Stalvey said he made the de­ci­sion to close his restau­rant for the night in or­der to give his staff time to ad­dress a num­ber of things that had been put off due to the hol­i­day sea­son rush.

“It’s an old build­ing. The back­door needed re­pair, the cooler door needed some re­pair, the tile has a few miss­ing pieces here and there,” Stalvey said, adding that health in­spec­tors also said three new hand sinks needed to be added.

Stalvey said some of his older em­ploy­ees have had trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing the new reg­ula- tions re­gard­ing the wear­ing of hand gloves, which re­quire em­ploy­ees to wash their hands in be­tween putting on new pairs of gloves.

“It’s very hard for peo­ple that’s older peo­ple to un­der­stand these reg­u­la­tions. It can get con­fus­ing and [the health in­spec­tors are] stand­ing there watch­ing you for four hours and they can get a lit­tle ner­vous,” he said, adding “You’re go­ing to see a lot of low scores be­cause these new reg­u­la­tions are very hard to un­der­stand and it’s very easy to get caught.”

Stalvey said he had no prob­lem with the way the health in­spec­tors con­ducted their in­spec­tion say­ing that they were fair.

“As long as they’re that way with me and every­body has to fol­low the same rules I can live with that,” he said.

Goins said the East Metro Health District is in the process of align­ing its poli­cies with those of the state’s in prepa­ra­tion for a July merger with the De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Health that will form the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Health, pend­ing ap­proval of the Gen­eral Assem­bly.

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