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City Council Approves ‘Risk-Based’ Restaurant Health Inspection Plan

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CBS 2 found that some of the city's fanciest restaurants have violated health codes. (CBS)

CBS 2 found that some of the city’s fanciest restaurants have violated health codes. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The City Council on Wednesday passed an ordinance that will give restaurants with good public health records a break on inspections.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office says the ordinance, intended to save taxpayer money, allows some restaurants to “self-certify,” provided that the Chicago Department of Public Health deems them “low-risk.”

Meanwhile, the Health Department will change its inspection methods so they will focus on “high-risk” rather than targeting all restaurants equally, the Mayor’s office said.

Currently, each and every food establishment must undergo an inspection once every six months, whether it has a perfect health record or a kitchen full of mold and cockroaches.

But under the new plan, restaurants will be deemed “low-risk” if they mostly serve pre-packaged foods, as well as restaurants that have passed an inspection within a year, or that gone for three years without being shut down by health authorities or being deemed the source of a foodborne illness outbreak.

Such restaurants will be allowed to self-certify without the repeated visits from inspectors, while high-risk restaurants will be the target of more frequent visits, according to the Mayor’s office.

“This ordinance will allow the City to better ensure the health safety of Chicagoans by allowing a more targeted and streamlined approach to inspections,” Mayor Emanuel said in a news release.

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