(SALEM) - The Washington County Health Department is behind in restaurant inspections, primarily because of the staff's workload.
The Salem Leader reports, the commissioners requested information after receiving a written complaint that some restaurants haven't been inspected in five years.
Julie Wells, the department's food specialist, told the commissioners she has been helping the department's new environmental specialist, Chris Boling, learn the responsibilities of his job.
She says the health department is also responsible for monitoring sites that have been used as meth labs, is responsible for inspecting public swimming pools and that she handles all paperwork related to animal control and she's not had much time to focus on restaurant inspections.
She claims the report of restaurants not being inspected in five years is a lie stating no restaurant can open without being inspected and without a permit.
Wells explained that inspections are required not just of restaurants but of any facility that serves food, including schools, the jail and even booths at fairs and festivals. She told the commissioners she carries her badge with her and that if sees something wrong in a restaurant she is patronizing, will point it out to management, whether or not she is on the clock.
When asked about using a grading scale, Wells said the health board has decided against using grades or scores, instead following state guidelines regarding violations.
Wells stressed she has been with the health department for 15 years and there has never been a food-borne illness.
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