Restaurants could see more violations on new forms

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TOLEDO (WTVG) -- At Tiger Lebanese Bakery and Deli, Ahmad Hammuda sells restaurant food that's prepared for you to eat.

His family business also sells wholesale meat.

That means Tiger Lebanese gets inspected by the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Inspections here take place three times a week.

"It's intimidating at first, but you get it together," says Hammuda. "It's safe for you. It's safe for the customers. Basically, it's safe for everyone as a whole."

The FDA forms at the federal level are similar to ones that will soon be used by county health departments across the state of Ohio. That includes the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, which has, by far, the highest number of licensed food facilities in Northwest Ohio.

The forms will have 66 boxes to check. They will also double the amount of paperwork from one page to two.

Restaurants that may have been able to slide by with a verbal warning will now get a written violation, because the criteria is now labeled "in compliance," "out of compliance," or "not applicable."

"Unfortunately, now, you're either in compliance or you're not," says Gillian Wilke, who has been a sanitarian with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department the past 13 years.

This is the biggest change to the inspection process she has seen. Wilke says it will likely take longer to conduct inspections and restaurants may start seeing higher numbers of violations.

"So a lot of some of the minor infractions could add up and make it look like there are more violations in the facility, where, truly there probably were," adds Wilke.

"Yeah, and I understand why they might be nervous or concerned, which they shouldn't be," says Hammuda, who agrees there will be an adjustment period but maintains the end result will be more protection to keep you from potentially getting sick.

Use of the new forms is set to begin Sept. 1, 2018.