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      State unveils online food vendor inspections

      Consumers in Michigan now have easier access to state inspections of food vendors.

      Earlier this month, the state launched a website which allows consumers to view inspections of over 19,000 grocery retailers and convenience stores across Michigan.

      "Obviously our highest priority is ensuring the quality of the food sold and distributed in the state of Michigan," said Jennifer Holton, Director of Communications at the Michigan Department of Agriculture. "By putting food inspections online, it provides greater transparency for consumers and retailers."

      To view the data, users must fill out the name of the establishment, the address and the county.

      The online records date back to September of last year and include any documented violations.

      "It will show any violations that were found during the inspection, and violations are items that could potentially lead to a food borne illness, food contamination, or environmental hazard," Holton added.

      According to the Department of Agriculture, the state sees up to a 95 percent compliance rate with retailers in resolving a violation.

      The Department of Agriculture is not the first health agency in Michigan to turn to the Internet.

      For several years, a majority of the state's 45 local health agencies have used the Internet to publish their inspection reports on local restaurants and other food vendors. The Marquette County Health Department has published their inspection records on the web for the past two years.

      "This just makes it more convenient so that they can view the public information regarding health inspections online," said Patrick Jacuzzo of the Marquette County Health Department.

      Anyone seeking the inspection record of a restaurant used to have to come into a health department and formally request a copy.

      To view Marquette County's inspections of area restaurants, click here.