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Food Service Safety and Enforcement Survey Results

Compiled results of 338 statewide public responses to 12 survey questions conducted by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

The questions addressed food safety, food inspections, food enforcement and drinking water as related to restaurants, schools and other facilities used by the public. The survey was conducted via telephone in August and September of 2008 and polled individuals over the age of 18.

1. How important do you think restaurant inspections are to keep food safe?

Importance factor Percentage of agreement
Very important 92%
Somewhat important 5%
Not very important 1%
Not important at all 1%

2. In your opinion, how many times per year do you think restaurants should be inspected?

Inspection frequency Percentage of agreement
Once per year 33%
Twice per year 29%
Quarterly 15%
Monthly 8%
Other 15%

3. In your opinion, how many times per year do you think school kitchens should be inspected?

Inspection frequency Percentage of agreement
Twice per year 29%
Once per year 23%
Quarterly 17%
Monthly 13%
Other 18%

4. Do you think restaurants should be inspected more than once every two years?

Inspection frequency Percentage of agreement
More 88%
Inspected enough 12%

5. If you knew restaurant inspections were frequent (say 2-4 times a year) would you feel safer about eating out?

Feel safer with knowledge of high inspection frequency Percentage of agreement
Yes 87%
No 13%

6. In your opinion, restaurant inspection frequency should:

Inspection frequency Percentage of agreement
Be the same for all restaurants 57%
Be based on the riskiness of the food they are preparing 38%
Be different depending on how many people they serve 23%
Be based on how well the restaurant scored at the last inspection? 15%
Based on other factors 10%
Happen only when the State receives a complaint about the restaurant 9%
Be based on cost to travel to the restaurant 4%
% are cumulative (not adding to 100%)

7. Which of the following do you think should count toward a restaurant's score to show they handled food safely?

Safe-handling score criteria Percentage of agreement
The facility is clean... bathrooms, counters, kitchen, etc.? 63%
The restaurant has a system in place such as written food safety procedures? 62%
Last five inspections? 57%
Most recent inspection? 56%
Number of employees trained and certified in food safety? 56%
Other factors should count towards the score? 5%

8. How would you like food safety compliance information to be made available?

Method of providing safety compliance info Percentage of agreement
Posted on the restaurant wall 68%
Available on the internet 60%
Listed in local newspaper 34%
Announced on television 14%
Other 3%

9. If you knew a restaurant had food handling policies and procedures for their staff to follow, how safe would you feel?

Feeling of safety with knowledge of establishment policies and procedures Percentage of agreement
Very Safe 24%
Safe 71%
Not Very Safe 4%
Not Safe At All 1%

10. In your opinion, if a restaurant does not get a "passing inspection", what do you think should happen?

Repercussion for failed inspection Percentage of agreement
Give them a warning and expect it to be corrected at next routine inspection 13%
Inspect again within a few days? 37%
Close the restaurant immediately and allow it to reopen when situation is corrected 34%
Make the restaurant pay a fine 4%
Something else should happen 12%
90+ items listed individually for "something else should happen". 80% had "No Comment".

11. Currently, drinking water at small businesses such as day cares, gas stations, or offices with private wells is not required to be tested. Do you think the drinking water at these places should be required to meet drinking water safety standards?

Private wells safety standard requirement Percentage of agreement
Yes 92%
No 8%

12. Do you consider preventing foodborne illness a public safety issue like fire and crime prevention?

Preventing foodborne illness a public safety issue Percentage of agreement
Yes 91.5%
No 8.5%

Food Safety Survey Methodology

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a cross-sectional telephone survey conducted by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services with technical and methodological assistance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alaska conducts monthly telephone surveys employing random-digit dialing using a standardized questionnaire to determine the distribution of risk behaviors and health practices among adults.

Alaska’s BRFSS uses a five region stratified sampling design based; each region contains a combination of boroughs and census areas, and an equal number of interviews are conducted from each region. This design over-samples non-urban areas of Alaska and allows for the collection of meaningful data from rural and minority populations. Alaska residents aged 18 and older are interviewed over the telephone regarding their health practices and day-to-day living habits each month.

In August and September of 2008, a survey on food safety inspections was conducted following the procedures used by the BRFSS. A total of 338 adult respondents were asked 10 questions on the importance of restaurant inspections, their suggested frequency, contributing factors to the score and penalties, and means of distributing of inspection results. Respondents were also asked one question about requiring drinking water testing at small business or offices with private wells and one question on treating the prevention of foodborne illness as a public safety issue like fire and crime prevention. Demographic variables on age, race, employment, income, and employment status were asked to provide socio-economic contexts to the responses. The data have been weighted according to age groups within each region to reflect the estimated 2007 adult population in the state.

The findings in this report are subject to the limitation that the BRFSS and this survey are telephone-based surveys and exclude households without landline telephones or with cellular telephones only.

This version of results represents a condensed overview of the complete report, which is available upon request.

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