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NYS Comptroller


Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Consumer Protection: Restaurant Inspections (2012MS-2)
We also issued five letter reports to the following counties: Albany [pdf], Columbia [pdf], Cortland [pdf], Niagara [pdf] and Oswego [pdf].

Released: April 27, 2012 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine whether county health departments ensure public safety by inspecting food service establishments' compliance with Code requirements for the period January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2011.


The New York Food Sanitary Code (Code) requires that owners and operators of food service establishments (FSEs) operate their premises in such a way as to avoid imminent health hazards. The New York State Department of Health's (DOH) and local (county) health departments all monitor compliance with the Code. County health departments issue permits and conduct unannounced annual inspections of FSEs to evaluate food workers' practices, how food is stored and processed, and the temperatures at which FSEs cook, cool, hold, and reheat foods. Inspections document the existence of Code violations.

Key Findings

  • All five counties have adequate controls in place to ensure that FSEs are operating in conformance with the Code: the counties conduct inspections of FSEs at least once a year and verify that FSEs correct any violations found during inspections.
  • Columbia and Cortland could increase consumers' assurance of protection against food-borne illness by inspecting high-risk FSEs twice a year – as do the other three counties - in accordance with DOH recommendations.
  • All five counties follow up on consumer complaints in a timely manner.
  • As a result, we concluded that these counties' inspection and monitoring practices are effective in reducing the risk of food hazards at FSEs, and in protecting consumers from food-borne illnesses.

Key Recommendation

  • Consider conducting inspections at high-risk FSEs consistent with DOH guidance, as resources permit.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236