WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Palm Beach County passed an ordinance to make diners aware of a state law that allows you to ask for a restaurant's inspection report. In our tests, the majority of restaurants do not follow the state law.
In 2007, Palm Beach County took the state law a step further and required restaurants post a sign in their window, door or menu to let you know you could ask for the inspection report. This came after NewsChannel 5 revealed dirty kitchens. Seven years later, our hidden cameras found restaurants breaking that rule too.
"I remember when the ordinance came up that they had to post it. I was all excited," explained diner Fran Green.
She said she rarely sees the signs now.
We went to 12 restaurants, from chains to fast food, and looked at their menu and in their window. We found no sign of the signs.
"That's unbelievable," explained Green.
"I'm not surprised," explained Dave Aronberg.
Aronberg was a state representative when he fought to get the ordinance passed.
"I think it's just because they don't know about the ordinance," explained Aronberg.
Don't know and may not care because we found the county hasn't enforced the signs. Nobody has been fined over it.
Todd Bonlarron is the county's Legislative Affairs Director. Since the Consumer Watchdog began asking questions, Bonlarron said the county will re-examine the issue.
"We'll try to go back and review and see if there are some other things we can do on a proactive level to make sure people know this ordinance exists," Bonlarron said.
The county will send a letter to restaurants in August, and is working with the local restaurant association to educate its members.
After that date, if you notice a restaurant not following the rule, you can report it via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Palm Beach County Code Enforcement at 561-233-5500. It's a complaint driven enforcement .
However, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) said this county ordinance and state law that requires the inspection reports be available is obsolete.
They want you to look at more than just one inspection report so you get a complete snapshot of a restaurant's inspection history, and FRLA feels the best way to do that is by looking online.
We make the reports available on our website. Click here to search your favorite restaurant .
We'll continue to follow this issue as the county steps up county awareness of this ordinance to see if restaurants comply with the rules.
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