The why’s and hows about food safety inspections

On June 20, the General Sutter Inn in Lititz racked up 18 inspection violations following an inspection by a independent food serving inspector sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

How does anyone know that? Everyone can go to the Department’s Website and get inspection information for any restaurant in Lancaster County (or in Pennsylvania, for that matter) EXCEPT FOR FOOD SERVING ESTABLISHMENTS IN COLUMBIA.

The Website cautions: “Please remember that any inspection is a ‘snapshot’ of the day and time of the inspection. An inspection conducted on any given day may not be representative of the overall, long-term cleanliness of an establishment. Also, at the time of the inspection, violations are recorded but are often corrected on site prior to the inspector leaving the establishment.”

Here are the violations noted by the inspector for the June 20 inspection:



This week’s inspections at Lancaster Online.

York County’s Inspections | York’s Imperial Gourmet racks up 17 violations resulting in this comment: “The Person in Charge does not have adequate knowledge of food safety in this food facility as evidenced by this non-compliant inspection.”

Click here to go to the state’s Website of inspections … and the listing of the violations at each location. The statewide directory lists inspections for all municipalities in York County and Lancaster County.

except those in ColumbiaColumbia persists in having its own inspection system with its own forms and inspection items – rather than the one used statewide.

In Pennsylvania,Retail Food Facility Licenses are issued to:

  • Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Food Auctions, Grocery Stores, Convenient Store, Beer Distributors, Schools, Caterers and similar public food facilities where food is sold or served directly to a consumer from a physical location or facility.
  • All retailers are required to obtain a Retail Food Facility License PRIOR to operating a Retail Food Facility. This includes new facilities and change of ownerships for existing businesses. Licenses are non-transferable to another proprietor, new facility or location.

“Pennsylvania’s Retail Food Inspection Reports

“Inspections are a “snapshot” of the day and time of the inspection.  Also, at the time of the inspection, violations are recorded but are often corrected on the spot prior to the inspector leaving the facility.

“Inspection results are posted as inspections are conducted, and only represent eating and drinking establishments and retail food establishments that fall under the inspection jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and those county and local health departments which have elected to post results.

Those local jurisdictions, e.g., Bucks County, that do their own inspections and announce: “The Bucks County Department of Health is pleased to offer online services–Food Facilities Inspection Reports. To view food facilities inspection reports,click on Food Facilities Inspection Reports.”

Currently, over 60 local health department inspection results can be found on the department’s website.

Searching: If the facility you are searching for cannot be found on the website, check the listing of County and Local Health Departments, to determine if the facility is in a county or local jurisdiction, and contact them directly to inquire about availability of inspection results

Why aren’t all the restaurants in Pennsylvania in this database? Not all restaurants in Pennsylvania are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.  Some local municipalities, counties, cities, etc., do their own inspections.  If a restaurant is located in one of these areas, and the jurisdiction has not elected to use the department’s inspection system, the inspections will not appear in this database.  You should contact the county or local health department in that area for the inspection records.


  1. Why does Columbia do its own food serving establishments inspections?
  2. Who does Columbia‘s food serving establishments inspections?
  3. Does Columbia’s food serving establishment inspector hold current SafeServ certification?
  4. Why doesn’t Columbia use the standard Pennsylvania food serving establishments inspection template?
  5. Does Columbia share its inspection reports with the County and the State?
  6. If not, why?
  7. Why doesn’t the Borough of Columbia post its own inspection reports at the borough Website?

health-inspection-big offers a comprehensive webpagePreparing for a Health Inspection — that girds food serving establishments with helpful information.


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