Tracking cleanliness of Baltimore restaurants

Posted at 6:31 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 18:31:50-04
"Ohhhh!  It's a feast.  It tastes great, and look at the helpings.  That's a whole sub.  Look at how big it is."

It's an Italian sub, all 15 inches of it, and man who just bought it, Robert Smith, says it's not even the best thing on the menu.

"Bravo Pizza Plus has good subs, good service, good Caesar salads---that chicken Caesar salad (is) the best in Baltimore," said Smith.

Then why does the business in the 5400 block of Harford Road still appear on the health department's list of food establishments shut down this year?

Well, it's part of an effort to let people know exactly how healthy or unhealthy Baltimore’s 5,000 food places really are.

Now, they've added another site---a food inspection portal where you can see the inspector's actual reports.

"There will be Public Information Act requests that going forward we won't have to fill,” said Assistant Commissioner of Environmental Health Mary Beth Haller, “We won't have staff completing all of that documentation, call of that copying, mailing---all of those costs associated.  We won't have that as people will be able to go online and look at it themselves."

The Hamilton business in question received poor marks back in March for a heavy mice infestation and general unsanitary conditions, but it had corrected the problems and re-opened within 48 hours.

Still, City Councilman Brandon Scott says people deserve to know.

"If the food that you do have access to is contaminated---it's been contaminated by rodents or insects or it's been left out for too long or you're operating without a license, you people should know that, because that is a crime just like having a gun is a crime," said Scott.

But no one's holding a gun to Robert Smith's head, just an Italian cold cut, and there's no cyber report that's going to keep him away.

"They cleaned it up very well.  They passed inspection.  It looks very clean to me,” said Smith, “I'm eating there again.  So I trust them."

The business says improper garbage storage behind the building caused the infestation, and they rectified it immediately.

Meanwhile, Councilman Scott says he still would like to see food services rated in the city, but his proposed measure failed last year.

You can access the new public portal here.