Health Dept.: Inspection photos part of public record

So far in 2014, 14 restaurants have been shut down.
So far in 2014, 14 restaurants have been shut down.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)   The unusually high number of restaurant closures so far in 2014 has prompted the Fort Wayne – Allen County Department of Health to release a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the Department’s website to answer questions the public may have about the restaurant inspection process.

Among the questions the Department answers is one addressing NewsChannel 15′s posting of recent restaurant inspections pictures online, as well as on-air.

The following are some excerpts from the document posted by the Health Department:

Are inspection reports public records?
Yes. By state law, a food establishment inspection report is a public record. This is why the Department of Health will provide copies of an inspection report upon request and why it publishes a summary of inspection results on its website.

What about the photos from the restaurant inspections that appeared on WANE-TV NewsChannel 15’s website? How did they get them?

The Department of Health did not release these photos to the media unprompted. We received a records request for the pictures from a news reporter with WANE-TV NewsChannel 15 and were obliged to comply with the request as these pictures are considered part of the inspection report, which is a public record.

The FAQs also address the recent uptick in complaints, closures and how inspectors conduct their inspection. NewsChannel 15 encourages anyone interested to read the entire ‘Frequently Asked Questions About Inspections & Closures’ document posted on the Department of Health’s website.

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