As the Macon County Health Department continues to do its best to keep us safe in restaurants, public reaction seems split into two camps – those disgusted with the restaurants, and those disgusted with what they see as nuisance closures by the Health Department.
Let's step back a minute and take a breath.
What would you rather have the Macon County Health Department do?
The department's duty is to protect the public. They're the ones making sure those serving the public food follow all laws and regulations. They would be in front of the line for blame if there was any sort of outbreak of foodborne illness.
What about the restaurants? What have those who have been temporarily closed done to be the subject of public ridicule or rejection? Mistakes were made, caught and repaired. Remember, before the restaurant can reopen, the owner must submit a corrective action plan along with a $250 re-opening fee.
As the Health Department's Administrator Dianna Heyer wrote earlier this month in a letter to the editor in the Herald & Review, “Closing a food establishment is a last resort. When (health inspectors) make a routine inspection or receive a complaint, they are required to investigate. If they find an imminent health hazard to patrons at a restaurant, they take action.”
To be sure, there are different ways for restaurant owners to react to any closing action. Some choose to maintain their innocence, some choose to badmouth the Health Department.
The reactions that impress the most, however, are the ones given by the owners of restaurants like Fuji and Benny's. Both went public acknowledging their businesses' mistakes, showed publicly the things they'd implemented to prevent the mistakes from being repeated, and both went out of their way to show contrition.
What else can we ask of restaurants?
If the rash of closings brings public health standards into the spotlight and customers and restaurant workers alike know inspections are ongoing, and far more restaurants pass the inspections than otherwise, how is that a bad thing?