State of Florida changes how often it inspects restaurants; dirty kitchens may be checked more often

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Right now, restaurants are inspected twice a year. The visits are unannounced. That may change for dirty kitchens.

At Bimini Twist, the kitchen is clean from top to bottom. Inspectors recently found no violations.

"There's hourly checklists, there's monthly checklists, and weekly checklists," explained Bimini Twist General Manager R.J. Zinner.

Zinner said a clean restaurant starts with top brass. He checks the temperatures of food constantly through the night.

At some restaurants, the state constantly finds problems with the temperature of food.

Restaurants which repeatedly make mistakes, and get fined for repeat problems, may have an inspector visit more often as the state shifts to a risk-based inspection process.

"It's increasing our regulatory authority to go into those establishments that have had a negative compliance history," explained Beth Frady of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Frady is the Deputy Communications Manager for DBPR and spoke to us via FaceTime, about the state's new system to rank restaurants one through four. The higher the number, the bigger the risk, and the more visits per year.

"Level 4 is if they had a confirmed food borne illness. They'll receive 4 unannounced visits," explained Frady.

A level 3 is a restaurant that repeatedly doesn't follow the rules.

"It may not lead to foodborne illness but it may if they have a negative compliance history. It could show potential issues so we want to keep an eye on it," Frady explained.

The majority of restaurants who follow the rules will be a level 2.

"It keeps the entire team on their toes," explained Frady.

Including Bimini Twist which recently got a perfect score during an inspection.

"It's not easy to get a 0. We work hard for it," explained Zinner.

We are pushing the state to release the list of restaurants that are a level 3 and 4. Since the new risk-based system is just starting, the state says it's still updating the rankings. They will be listed online in the state's searchable database .

The rankings will be updated at the beginning of every fiscal year. However, if a restaurant has repeat problems during the year the state says it will still re-inspect them again even if they are not technically categorized as a level 3 or higher.

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