Grocery Health Reports Available Online

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Health Inspections for grocery stores and convenience stores were always a matter of public record, but it wasn't always this easy to get them.

"We want transparency in our program and we want the citizens of Michigan to be able to look and see how their store or the store they might be shopping at is doing," said Tom Tederington, a food policy specialist at the State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Before, anyone was entitled to a health inspection record, but it required filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act. As of September, the department moved those records to a website, called MiSafe, that anyone can access.

"We want to let the citizens know what we're doing out in the field and how their local establishment is doing on food safety," said Tederington. "We would prefer to have nobody get sick from food. That is our goal and we will do the best we can to make sure that happens."

Ed Deeb, chairman of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, a group that advocates for grocers across the state, says he has no problem with health inspections, but he doesn't like the idea of keeping the records online for years afterward. Tederington said the records would stay for a minimum of five years and possibly forever.

Other local grocers agreed that one bad health report from years ago isn't an accurate representation of where the store is at the current time. Another concern is that the public won't have the expertise to read a health report correctly and accurately assess the seriousness of a violation.

But Tederington thinks the more information available the better.

"I guess there is a concern especially if you don't understand food safety -- what really isn't a risk and what really is a risk," he said. "We certainly wanted the citizens to be able to look at the evaluation or inspection reports and make a decision on their own.

"Certainly your most recent evaluation or inspection report will give you a snapshot of how the establishment is that day but I think a pattern of compliance or non-compliance is important for the citizens to look at."

A representative from the Kroger supermarket chain said the website -- which launched in September 2012 -- has had no impact on the stores.

Consumers that spoke to News Ten say they're happy to have the option of accessing the information.

"I think that's a good thing, to let people know if they should go there or not and read their reviews and see if it's even worth going," said one woman shopping at the Target on Edgewood Blvd.

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