The City of St Louis Department of Health is responsible for verifying that all food establishments follow well recognized procedures to provide safe and wholesome food to the public. This includes all operations that provide food to the general public, such as restaurants, taverns, carry-outs, grocery stores, caterers, and day care centers. Both permanent and temporary operations are regulated.
Environmental Health inspectors routinely inspect all food establishments. The frequency of regular inspections depends on the complexity of the operation. For example, a gas station that sells pre-packaged food would be inspected less often. A restaurant serving a complex menu of easily perishable items would be inspected more often. All operations are inspected annually, but some are inspected twice or even three times a year.
Additional inspections are done when a permanent food establishment opens up, or when complaint are called in to the Citizen’s Service Bureau. If problems are found, followup inspections are done to ensure compliance with city ordinances.
Whenever a temporary operation is set up, such as a food stand at a public event, Environmental Health Officers verify compliance before food is allowed to be served.
During an inspection, problems are identified and reported, and the food establishment is given a list of problems to be addressed. This is the food inspection report that you can see on our website. Some problems can be fixed before the inspector leaves the establishment. Others take more time, and the inspector returns to verify that the problems have been resolved. This results in a 2nd inspection report, which generally finds that problems have been resolved. If not, then subsequent inspections will occur until all problems are resolved.
If the food establishment is unable to resolve problems, then various fines and sanctions can be imposed. In extreme cases, food operations may be shut down until problems are resolved.