Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat

Does your favorite restaurant pass food safety tests?

Published 12:40am Sunday, August 12, 2012

By Rod Guajardo, Vershal Hogan, & Lindsey Shelton

NATCHEZ — Restaurant owners who routinely receive high marks from the state health department on cleanliness and safety suggest that patrons should closely review restaurants with repeated violations.

That’s because meeting the requirements and correcting problems isn’t that difficult and should be a standard expectation, some owners said.

And area diners can find comfort in knowing that the majority of local restaurants pass their health inspections with flying colors.

Mississippi restaurants are inspected and receive an A, B or C rating depending on certain critical or non-critical violations.

Louisiana restaurants are also inspected based on critical or non-critical violations to prevent and minimize food-borne disease outbreaks, but the inspector doesn’t give a letter grade to the establishment.

While some procedures like number of annual inspections are similar, the grading and reporting methods vary across state lines.

Making the grade in Mississippi

Adams County full-service restaurants

The Mississippi Department of Health’s food facility inspection grading system is three-tiered, rated from A to C.

An “A” rating means that health inspectors found no critical violations. Critical violations are defined as violations of the food code that are more likely to result in contaminated food or other health risks.

A “B” rating means that the inspector found a critical violation, but it could be corrected onsite and no further action was needed to fix the problem.

An example of a B violation might include leftovers that were not properly date-marked or food that needs additional heating, said John Luke, MDH’s director of food protection.

A “C” rating is given when critical violations were found that could not be immediately corrected. A restaurant that receives a C has 10 days to correct the problem before re-inspection, and if the problems aren’t properly addressed the health department begins taking steps to suspend the restaurant’s permit.

Examples of C-rating violations might include not having running water or rodent infestations, Luke said.

Since Aug. 2011, only three full-service restaurants in Adams County have received a C — Cock of the Walk, El Potro Mexican Grill and The Lunch Box.

In addition, under deli-style restaurants, the Natchez Coffee Company received a C.

Full-service restaurants receiving a B in the same time period were: Monmouth Plantation, Cock of the Walk, El Potro, Lil Dago’s, Breaud’s Seafood and Steak, Pizza Hut on U.S. 61 South, The Lunch Box, Roux 61, Papa Johns and Cotton Alley Café.

Details on the violations for each of those restaurants can be viewed online at: http://bit.ly/RJ1E6H.

Waiting on an inspector’s review can be a bit nerve wracking for restaurant owners and staff, they said, since they don’t know exactly what the outcome will be.