The news: The City of Chicago launched a pilot program in March to streamline food inspection processes, requiring fewer routine assessments for low-risk food establishments. Behind the news: Food establishments that fail five or more health inspections are more likely to be on the city’s South Side. Of the 35 food establishments that have failed five or more inspections since January 2010, 21 are located south of 21st Street. A 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on restaurant inspections in Tennessee found that walls in poor repair were some of the most common health code violations. All of the food providers on the South Side that failed five or more inspections were written up for structural issues such as broken walls and ceiling tiles, and 18 had rodent and pest problems.
Addressing such complaints can require costly renovations, said Sarah Klein, staff attorney for the Food Safety Program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest based in Washington, D.C.
“If the restaurants are financially poor performers [and] the problems are not behavioral, it’s going to be hard to change,” Klein said.