How to check restaurant health inspections in metro Atlanta counties

For many diners, the cleanliness of a restaurant is as much of a deciding factor in choosing where to eat as is the quality of the food.

Fortunately, there’s a more technical way to assess an eatery’s hygiene than just eyeballing glassware and trying to glimpse kitchen equipment when servers emerge from a swinging door.

Georgia has rules it requires every food service operation to follow. Some of the health and safety regulations include requiring permits to serve food, keeping items at correct temperatures to prevent pathogen growth and ensuring employees meet standards of cleanliness.

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Health departments regularly inspect restaurants and assign grades based on how many points are deducted from a 100 score. If a facility fails repeatedly, the food service's permit may be suspended.

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution food and dining editor Ligaya Figueras has noted, inspections aren't easy to pass. It's often stressful for restaurant owners, chefs and other staff when an inspector shows up unannounced at the door — once, twice, even three times a year, depending on the type of facility — and it is generally devastating for the establishment when it fails.

For potential guests, the scores are a good indicator of how tightly a restaurant is being managed during a certain time frame. The grades must be displayed for public view in each restaurant at all times.

Scores below 70 are considered failing. When a restaurant is deemed unacceptable, follow-up inspections are generally completed within 10 days of the original evaluation.

Here’s where you can look up inspections in five metro Atlanta counties:

• Fulton County

• Cobb County

• DeKalb County

• Gwinnett County

• Forsyth County

Clayton County

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