Restaurant inspections

By Jeff Whitten

If you ever wondered who is charged with making sure restaurants and other food service establishments handle food in a safe and sanitary manner, the answer for this area is Stacy Deaton.

Deaton works at the McNairy County Health Department for the Tennessee Department of Health Division of General Environmental Health.

He covers this county, as well as Chester, Hardeman and part of Fayette counties.

In addition to food service inspections, he also inspects hotels and motels, public swimming pools, campgrounds, schools, prisons, tattoo and body piercing studios and bed and breakfasts.

However, the food service inspection program is the biggest program of this division. This includes restaurants, school cafeterias, child care facilities and state prisons. 

Grocery stores and convenience stores are inspected, but the Department of Agriculture rather than the Department of Health inspects these establishments.

All of the establishments on Deaton’s list are inspected twice a year unless a complaint is lodged against them or they obtain a failing score on their inspection.

All inspections are unannounced and conducted at random.

“They know I’m coming eventually; they don’t know when. They try to stay ready. For the most part, everybody does a good job,” he said.

Stores are scored on a scale of 1 to  100. A score below 70 is considered failing. The average score in McNairy County is 79 or 80, Deaton said. Around five establishments typically fail their inspections in a six-month period.

A copy of the inspection report is required by law to be posted in the establishment in a conspicuous manner.

Deaton usually personally inspects the some 87 McNairy County establishments that are on his list.

The criteria for the inspection are 46 items that include proper food storage, hygienic conditions and the absence of insects, rodents or other animals in the establishment. Of these, 13 are considered critical because they are likely to cause illness if they are found and not corrected.

If one of these critical violations is not corrected within 10 days, the department has the authority to close it until these violations are corrected.

If the critical violations are corrected on the follow-up inspection, the scores of the establishment are raised.

An establishment can be closed immediately if there is an imminent health hazard such as a contaminated water supply, sewage backup, inadequate facilities to hold product temperature or the inability to sanitize dishes or utensils.

* Restaurant Score Card

  Top Ten Restaurant Inspection Scores

Establishment Inspection Date Score

1.  Selmer Senior Center 2/14/2011 97

2.  America’s Best Inn 5/3/2011 97

3.  Adamsville Head Start 2/15/2011 97

4.  Subway (Adamsville) 4/18/2011 96

5.  The Scenic Café 3/10/2011 95

6.  Southwood Inn 4/21/2011 95

7.  Ramer Head Start 2/3/2011 95

8.  Playmates Preschool 2/14/2011 95

9.  McNairy County 

Senior Citizens 2/15/2011 95

10. Jan’s Daycare 3/21/2011 95


Bottom Ten Restaurant Inspection Scores

Establishment Inspection Date Score Follow-Up Score

1. Cookin’ On Wheels 5/19/2011 65 follow-up due

2. Bo Hawgs BBQ 5/12/2011 70 94 on 6-2-11

3. Miss Reba’s 5/12/2011 70 89 on 6-2-11

4. Mi Amigo 5/31/2011 74 88 on 6-20-11

5. Ole Monterrey Café 6/15/2011 74 follow-up due

6. Panchito’s Mexican Rest. 5/9/2011 75 89 on 6-2-11

7.Country Kitchen 5/31/2011 76 85 on 6-20-11

8. K&T Auction 5/27/2011 76 85 on 6-17-11

9. Keith’s Auction 4/27/2011 77 86 on 5-18-11

10. Pat’s Café 5/19/2011 79 88 on 5-19-11