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Food inspector works to make sure restaurants keep clean

POSTED: June 21, 2009 10:55 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Laurie Wentworth works for the kitchen inspection unit of Hall County Environmental Health.

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Laurie Wentworth spends most of her days trying to prevent people from getting sick when they go out to eat.

As a food inspector, she goes to various restaurants to perform routine kitchen inspections as well as investigate complaints. She also supervises two other inspectors.

There are many factors that go into the grade a restaurant receives, but Wentworth said there is a unifying goal.

“Typically we’re looking for things that would cause a food-borne illness,” Wentworth said. “Cleanliness is part of it, but your main focus is if they’re handling your food correctly.”

Important things she looks out for are employees washing hands and wearing gloves when handling food. Making sure food is kept at the right temperature is also key.

Wentworth said when she finds something wrong in a kitchen, it is most often done accidentally rather than on purpose.

“We work a lot trying to educate,” she said. “I think people really want to do the right thing ... we work a lot with them to get it right.”

Wentworth said food safety has received a lot of attention following a number of scares over the past few years, including the recent salmonella outbreak in peanut products.

“People ask more questions about food,” she said.

Wentworth said there is a lot more to inspection than some might imagine.

“When I started I didn’t know how much was involved. I felt like you had so much responsibility to make sure everything is healthy,” Wentworth said.

She said her favorite part of the job is that no two days are the same.

“We’ve seen some interesting things in our day,” Wentworth said.



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