To reach the City Food Service Inspector(s), please call 756-8365 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not drop in at City Hall, as the inspector(s) spend nearly all of their time in the field and are not available without an appointment.
If you witness unsafe food handling practices at a food establishment, or experience illness immediately after eating or drinking at an establishment, please call the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 24-hour, 7 days a week disease reporting line at 1 (800) 821-5821.
Please review the Frequently Asked Questions information posted below, and if your question isn’t answered, then please leave a message on the Food Service Inspections Hotline at 756-8365 and we’ll call you back.
Have you recently been ill?
If you believe a recent illness is related to a food service establishment, please contact the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 24-hour, 7 days a week disease reporting line at 1 (800) 821-5821. Please keep in mind that many foodborne pathogens can take days, weeks, and in the case of Hepatitis A, months to show symptoms. The most recent place you’ve eaten isn’t always the culprit.
Need to reach a Health Inspector?
To reach a City of Portland Health Inspector, please call the Food Service Inspections Hotline at 756-8365. This is the quickest way to get an inspection scheduled. The inspectors are out in the field most of the time. Please apply for city and state licenses before requesting an inspection.
Food Service Establishments are required to be inspected at least once every 2 years. Restaurants can be inspected more frequently because of complaints and at the health inspector’s discretion. The City started posting inspections as of June 2013.
The City of Portland has an agreement with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and inspects food service establishments by delegation of their authority. The Maine Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores and markets. The City of Portland does not have a similar agreement with the Department of Agriculture, and therefore doesn’t inspect any establishment that engages in wholesale or makes the majority of their revenue from pre-packaged food items sales.
An inspection report is a snapshot in time. It is not representative of how a food service establishment always operates. It is an opportunity for the inspector and the management of the establishment to check food service operations for foodborne illness risk factors, public health interventions, good retail practices, and make corrections as necessary.
There are four main pages of the inspection report:
1. First Page:
A. Basic Information – at the top of the first page you will find the establishment’s name, address, license type, owner’s name, telephone number. You will also find the following information:
- Date and Time of the inspection,
- State license number and expiration date,
- State License is visibly posted,
- Purpose of the inspection (Regular, Follow-up (to a failed inspection), Pre-Operational (before it opens), Complaint
- Risk Category refers to risk of illness – For example, an establishment that cooks meat to order will be High. A place that sells only ked goods from an outside, approved source will be Low.
- Number of Risk Factor/Intervention Violations and Repeat Risk Factor/Intervention Violations – The number of violations found in the second section of the first page titled, “Foodborne Illness Risk Factors and Public Health Interventions” determines the number in this box. The number of violations for the Repeat box below is determined by the number of repeat violations found from previous inspections.
- Outcome of the Inspection – in the upper left corner there are three boxes: Failed, Closed and IHH. If none are checked, then it is passing. If Failed is checked, then there were more than 3 Critical violations or more than 10 Non-Critical violations and a follow-up inspection is required. A Critical violation is a regulatory noncompliance that is more likely than other violations to pose a risk of contamination, illness, or an Imminent Health Hazard. Critical violations relate directly to factors which lead to illness and must receive immediate attention and be corrected as soon as possible, but, in any event, within 10 days. Non-Critical violations must be corrected no later than 90 calendar days after the inspection. If Closed is checked, then the establishment closed. If IHH is checked, then there was an Imminent Health Hazard, such as no water or a fire.
B. Foodborne Illness Risk Factors and Public Health Interventions - Risk Factors are improper practices or procedures identified as the most prevalent contributing factors of foodborne illness or injury. Public Health Interventions are control measures to prevent foodborne illness or injury. If the establishment is in compliance, then the compliance status column will say, “IN”. If not, then it will say, “OUT.” It could also say “N/O” or “N/A” for Not Observed and Not Applicable. The other column will say, “COS,” for Corrected On Site, if the violation was corrected immediately. It can also say “R” for Repeat violation.
C. Good Retail Practices – These practices are preventive measures to control the addition of pathogens, chemicals, and physical objects into foods. The owner’s and health inspector’s signatures appear at the bottom of this section, and the date of the follow-up inspection is also specified, if necessary.
2. Second Page:
Temperature Observations – Temperature measurements of water and food are taken to determine compliance with hot and cold temperature requirements. Hot water must be a minimum of 110F. Cold food must be kept at or below 41F and hot food must be kept at 140F or above. The range of temperature between 41-140F is known as he “Danger Zone,” because pathogens can multiply the most rapidly at these temperatures, especially 70-140F.
3. Third Page:
Observations and Corrective Actions – Each violation observed is itemized and sometime has notes from the inspector. The first number of the violation corresponds to the number of the violation on the first page. The second number references the location of the requirement in the Maine Food Code. The letter C or N indicates whether it is a Critical or Non-Critical violation.
4. Fourth Page:
Inspection Notes – These are helpful reminders to the management of the establishment, including Certified Food Protection Manager information, Violation Correction Time Frame and Documentation Retention.
More than 3 Critical violations or more than 10 Non-Critical violations result in a failing inspection. Establishments have 10 days to correct Critical violations and 90 days to correct Non-Critical violations. A follow-up inspection can occur after 10 days, but typically within 2 to 3 weeks.
No. Any establishment can have an off day. A failing inspection means there were too many violations at that point in time. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad place. It just means they need to fix the issues sooner rather than later and it warrants a follow-up visit. By the time you read an inspection report, the Critical violations have been corrected and the Non-Critical violations are well on their way, if not completely corrected too.
A complaint can come from anyone. It could be true or not. Every complaint is taken seriously. If your complaint is related to becoming ill, please contact the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 24-hour, 7 days a week disease reporting line at 1 (800) 821-5821. If your complaint is related to another concern, please leave a message on the Food Service Inspections Hotline or call the Health Inspection Program at 207-287-5671.