Sellers of packaged foods along with restaurants and grocery stores with good inspection records will now be allowed to do their own food inspections under a “risk-based” trial program the Chicago City Council approved today.
The new self-certification plan being tested by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration affects about 2,400 of 15,000 or so Chicago businesses that sell food. Instead of being visited by city inspectors every six months, they would send their own reports to the city Health Department. City inspections would be much less frequent.Packaged food sellers like gas stations and corner stores would qualify. So would restaurants and grocery stores that have passed an inspection in the previous year and have not been closed for food-safety issues or been implicated as a source of a food-borne illness outbreak in the past three years.
The idea is to free compliant business owners from bureaucratic entanglements with government. The ordinance also allows the city to better focus the work of its 32 food inspectors on establishments with a greater risk of food-borne illness, officials said.
When the trial program ends Nov. 2, 2014, the city will then decide whether to make permanent the new rules.