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Food Inspections 

Note: The food inspection scores can be searched by establishment name, city, ZIP Code or inspection score. A link to the most recent inspection scores can be found at the bottom of this page.

By law, food service establishments (this includes bars, restaurants, etc.) operating in Kentucky are required to have a permit to operate. These permits are issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. In Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, the Northern Kentucky Health Department issues food permits on behalf of the state. View a complete list of the types of facilities generally categorized as food service establishments

One of the requirements for a permit is that the establishment must be inspected regularly. This is done by a registered sanitarian, commonly known as a health inspector.

Frequency
Purpose
Scores: What do they mean?
Follow-up inspections
Inspection reports
Smoke-free restaurants
More information

Frequency
The inspections look for general sanitation and food safety. They are done twice a year, unless otherwise needed (for example, a restaurant having a complaint may be inspected more than twice in one year. Also, establishments that only operate for a short period of time during the year may only receive one inspection).

The inspections are typically unannounced---the establishment does not know ahead of time when the inspection will take place. The exception to this is in cases where it is necessary to schedule an inspection due to an establishment’s hours of operation or for other establishments that are not open to the public on a walk-in basis.

Purpose

Inspector checking food safety at a restaurantThe purpose of the inspections is to assure that the food is being properly handled and protected when stored, prepared, displayed, served and transported. Inspectors observe various aspects of a food service operation including:


Scores: What do they mean?
Inspectors look for 38 potential items of violation, each of which is assigned a point value based on how it can affect a person’s health. The point values range from one to five, with one being least severe and five being most severe.

Most of the items on the inspection are weighted at one or two points and are called non-critical. Others are weighted at three, four or five points because they are considered a higher threat and are called critical violations.

An example of a non-critical item is a hand washing sink in an establishment that is dirty or a refrigerator that doesn’t have a thermometer provided in or on it to monitor the temperature inside.

An example of a critical item is an employee failing to use a hand sink to wash hands between handling raw chicken and cutting up vegetables for use in salad; or potentially hazardous food items stored at a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit inside a broken refrigerator.

To calculate an establishment’s final score, the total of the points for all violations marked is subtracted from a total point value of 100.

Follow-up inspections
Generally, follow-up inspections happen within 10 days there were has any critical violations or within 30 days if the total score was below 85 without critical violations. Follow-up inspections can be conducted on the same visit if the problem is something the restaurant staff can correct immediately. A food establishment can also require more than one follow-up inspection.

In any case, if the total score received is below 70, the establishment's permit may be suspended. Scores below 70 may also require conferences with officials from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, which may result in later follow-up dates. The food establishment may be required to close during this time period. If you have questions about a particular situation, you may request the complete inspection report by calling Environmental Health and Safety at 859.341.4151.

Inspection reports
A searchable list of food service establishments in Northern Kentucky with the dates of their recent inspections and the scores associated with them, along with follow up scores if they were necessary, can be seen by clicking here. These scores were updated on Jan. 11, 2017.

Please keep in mind that the inspection scores only represent the conditions present at the time of the inspection. Conditions in a restaurant as well as other types of food service establishments can change from hour-to-hour and day-to-day.

Smoke-free restaurants
Many restaurants in Northern Kentucky are 100 percent smoke-free. View a list of smoke-free restaurants. Most restaurants in Kenton County are covered by the county's smoke-free law.

More information
View a sample of the complete inspection form. Copies of establishment inspection reports are available to the public upon written request. For information on requesting a report, please call Environmental Health and Safety at 859.341.4151.

For more information on rating scores for food service establishments and how they relate to enforcement of the Kentucky State Retail Food Code, see Section 41 of the Code.