Quebec’s department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) posts the results of food inspections on its website, but it’s laborious to look them up and most customers don’t bother.
Montreal will take steps to require restaurants and grocery stores to display food safety inspection reports in their entrances, under a motion adopted by city council Tuesday.Proposed two weeks ago by the opposition Ensemble Montréal party, the motion won unanimous approval.It directs the city to ask the provincial department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) for permission to require food purveyors, also including wholesalers and catering companies, to post the results of food inspections where consumers can see them.“I feel very enthusiastic,” said Karine Boivin-Roy, co-leader of the opposition party and a councillor in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough.“It generated a lot of interest among citizens,” she said.Boivin-Roy said Montreal is 15 years behind other major cities like Toronto, New York and Paris that already post food inspection ratings in front of food establishments.MAPAQ posts the results of food inspections on its website, but it’s laborious to look them up and you can’t expect consumers looking for a place to eat to do that kind of research, she noted.With only 31 food inspectors, Montreal has 14,000 restaurants, Boivin-Roy noted. From 2017 to 2018, food-safety violations jumped by 43 per cent, while the amount paid in fines increased by 52 per cent from $539,400 to $820,000.The Quebec government set aside $10 million in this year’s budget to step up food inspections and to enable Montreal to carry out food inspection responsibilities delegated to it by MAPAQ.Boivin-Roy said that in cities like New York that have adopted the practice of posting inspection results, “the results are positive; restaurant owners say consumers feel more confident.”She acknowledged that an unfavourable report could hurt a restaurant, but said that’s only fair.“You have to remember that restaurant owners have obligations. They have the obligation to respect food safety, to maintain clean premises, and have clean equipment. So I think Montrealers have the right to expect that,” she said.Boivin-Roy said implementing the motion could take some time, since the city must first ask the province for permission to publicize data collected by city inspectors under powers delegated to it by the Quebec government.The city will have to decide how to present food-inspection ratings — either as a numerical score, an alphabetical mark, a colour code or some other symbol, she said.Once it obtains permission, it will also post the information on Montreal’s website and mobile app, according to the motion.“For Montrealers, the sooner the better,” Boivin-Roy email@example.comRelated