TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- The state agency in charge of restaurant health inspections is rolling out a new "risk based" rating system for food service establishments that aims to increase the number of inspections within restaurants with a history of serious violations.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation will assign a rating level between 1 and 4 for every food service establishment, with 1 being the safest, and 4 having the greatest risk.

The rating number will directly correlate with the minimum number of inspections required each year. A restaurant rated a Level 1 would require only 1 inspection per year, while a level 4 restaurant would require at least 4 inspections annually.

MORE:Risk-based inspection frequency (pdf)

The state will assign a rating level between 1 and 4 for every food service establishment in Florida. WTSP

Previously, state law required all food service establishments, even vending machines, receive at least two surprise inspections each year. The new system, taking effect Tuesday, will allow the inspectors to better allocate resources with a greater focus on restaurants at greatest risk of making customers sick.

The majority of sit-down restaurants that cook raw meats and refrigerate cooked foods will be considered Level 2, and will continue to require at least two inspections per year.

Restaurants with three or more disciplinary issues will be elevated to a Level 3, while restaurants with a confirmed case of food-borne illness will be in the highest risk category, a Level 4.

A spokeswoman with Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants say the actual inspection process will remain the same, the only change will be inspection frequency based on the new risk level.

The state will continue conducting additional inspections beyond the required minimum if a consumer complaint is received alleging unsanitary conditions.


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