Sep 13, 2015 4:27 PM
Food safety at risk given lack of health inspections in NH
CONCORD - More than 700 cases of food-borne illness were reported in New Hampshire in 2012 and cost the state $681,000.
Despite that, many food establishments deemed at the greatest risk of spreading illness have gone more than a year between state inspections and nearly one-fifth weren't inspected at all in 2013 or 2014, according to the Concord Monitor.
This includes places like food processing plants, large restaurants and dining halls.
“Unfortunately, I feel it puts the health of a lot of citizens at risk," state Sen. Jerry Little, a Weare Republican who is on a legislative committee that oversees state performance audits, told the Monitor.
This recent state performance audit took at look at the Food Protection Section of the NH Department of Health and Human Services and makes several recommendations for improvements.
The Department of Health and Human Services agreed with many of the audit’s recommendations, and indicated it has plans to launch a database this fall that will shift some critical operations online and give the public electronic access to inspection results.
But the department also pointed out that the Legislature has been rolling back food safety regulations and the Food Protection Section, made up of 15 employees, has faced staff reductions.
Currently seven employees conduct food inspections, and two people cover statewide dairy inspections, said Michael Dumond, with the Bureau of Public Health Protection.
The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee plan to question food safety officials about the audit at a meeting on Sept. 25.