Above, left, page one of an inspection report for a Lancaster City food facility; (right) page one of an inspection report for a Columbia Borough food facility. The Lancaster City food facility report is available at the Department of Agriculture’s database. Columbia’s food facility report was obtained via a Right-To-Know submission. Ironically, Columbia uses the states’ Standard Right-to-Know Law Request Form
What else could be the reason that Columbia is the only Lancaster County municipality that conducts its own food facility inspection reports and hides them from the state’s Department of Agriculture database?
For over half a year, there have been rumors and discussions about Columbia’s giving up its food facility inspection system and relinquishing it to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. At a recent meeting, the borough manager said the borough is progressing toward that through a “process.”
Why does Columbia cling so tenaciously to its own inspection system? Is it about dissolving a revenue stream? Is it about maintaining “control?” Is it about protecting certain establishments?
Columbia, you see, assesses charges to the facility “inspected” by Jeff Helm — the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s inspectors and Lancaster City’s inspectors do not charge to conduct the required annual inspection.
By law, the authorized department inspects all eating and drinking establishments once per year. The annual inspection is an unannounced one — except in Columbia.
Columbia could continue its own system and could upload the data to the state’s database, but has not done that to this point. Columbia, too, could post its inspections at its website, but has not done that to this point.
Pennsylvania models the national food code. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes the Food Code, a model that assists food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating the retail and food service segment of the industry (restaurants and grocery stores and institutions such as nursing homes).
Lancaster County’s (except Columbia’s) inspections for May 24 at Lancaster Online. If you’re blocked from viewing this article due to the newspaper’s paywall, you can go to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s database to see all of the reports for the week ending or anytime.
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 Columbia – Columbia persists in having its own inspection system with its own forms and inspection items – rather than the one used statewide. It is ongoing display of a purposeful lack of transparency.
Columbia news, views & reviews has been raising the issue of Columbia’s hidden food facility inspection system nearly every week since March, 2011.