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Posted: June 17, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Strict but fair, please

We understand very well that rules are rules. During the last year the state of Georgia has revised and tightened the rules involving restaurant inspections. We also understand why this has been done.

Nobody wants to eat in an establishment that is not clean and that does not follow the rules regarding food preparation.

Not following the uniform rules set forth by state policy costs local restaurant owners in a big way; their scores, which are a matter of public record, are not only posted for all to see in their own restaurants but also are run in The Covington News and on CovNews.com.

Low scores drive away customers, period.

If a score is low enough, the restaurant is closed until the proper corrections are made. Not only does this cost owners revenue, but also there is a big fine attached to the reopening.

It seems to us that since last fall there has been a large amount of low scores for some of our local eating establishments compared to other counties surrounding us.

It is hard for us to believe that after years of good inspections all of a sudden many of our local restaurant managers don't know how to keep their places clean and safe for customers.

We are not inspectors, nor do we pretend to know more than they, but there are two things that we would like to recommend that might help our local restaurants. First, there should be some type of appeal process - the power to make or break a business should not rest in one person's power. Second, some inspectors for the health department could act with a kinder spirit in working with our local restaurant owners - genuinely wanting to correct any errors that might lead to unsafe eating conditions for our residents and visitors rather than punish owners.

To be clear, we want restaurants that do not follow the rules to be punished; we just want the process to be fair.


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