New Food Rules

September 1, 2005

Since March the daily specials at Judge Crater's Tavern have been a culinary hit with lawyers and the courthouse crowd looking for a bite to eat.

"We've been open since early spring and a lot of people have been happy. We've done well, our temperatures were up to par, they were excellent and up to par," said Kari Bowling, the restaurant's kitchen manager

But, the food police recently had a few minor objections during a recent inspection.

"Food health inspectors came in a couple of weeks ago. We were docked on a broken title and also a broken spatula that had been ripped a little bit, just little minor things. We didn't have any deductions based on our food," said Bowling.

Judge Crater's earned a score of 92, however their next pop quiz will be administered under a new set of rules and a brand new inspection sheet. State health officials say rules that are more in line with the Food and Drug Administration.

Restaurants like Judge Craters can keep using gloves if they like, but they're not mandatory. Under the new rules, item #2 on the new inspection sheet only requires approved barrier like tongs, deli tissue between the server and your food.

Item #33 on the new inspection sheet still deducts 4 critical points for the presence of rats and roaches. However, protecting outer openings is no longer be considered a critical violation.

Item #41 --toxic items stored with cleaners no longer a critical violation.

"I think that's great that they are changing that because a lot of time the staff gets really busy and we have to use the spray bottles and different things to clean up spills or whatever, but nobody every really mixes the cleaners with the food," said Bowling.

A sanitary pop quiz still based on a score of 100, but now 72 points are related to critical violations, 28 related to non-critical.

Surprisingly if Judge Craters and many others continue to maintain proper food temperatures and consistently earn scores in the 90's they could earn a few extra brownie points. That's not scheduled to happen until January 2010, but managers will have to pass a certified food-training course first. I'd be willing to take the course.

"I like the idea, I think that's encouraging and it will only help because I'm still learning a lot of things too," said Bowling.

The new food rules were adopted last week,  but many counties like Madison County are so busy re-permitting eating establishments, the State has given them until October 1st to implement the new rules. The state is also allowing a small amount of leeway to restaurants during the first few months, however it will be up the restaurant owners to become familiar with the new state guidelines.

Now a WAFF 48 News update-

Earlier this month we told you about a Valley customer who claimed a rat bit her foot while she was eating at Kim San Restaurant in Scottsboro. The food police determined she had a legitimate complaint. Kim San's owners temporarily closed and remodeled. They invested in a new ceramic tile floor and quickly hired an exterminator.

Kim San found a bit of redemption in re-inspection. The restaurant re-opened this week with inspector's approval. They turned their previous score of 87 into an impressive 94. To get a look at the new inspection sheet and state guidelines we've added a link to our web site at WAFF 48 News.

For a complete look at the new inspection sheet, plus a more detailed report on the new rules and regulation we've added a link to our webpage at WAFF.COM. Also visit the Alabama State Department of Public Health at .  Please click onto the environmental health division. The state has also placed a copy of the new inspection sheet there as well.