LEWISTON — The city may post restaurant inspections to its website, councilors said Tuesday.

City councilors favored a plan to let residents view and download detailed inspection reports for Lewiston’s roughly 166 restaurants, but Councilor Nathan Libby suggested a change like that deserves a public hearing.

“I feel like this is a change of policy for the city,” Libby said. “Rather than say ‘staff, go ahead,’ it would be my preference to put this on an agenda and take a formal vote.”

City Administrator Ed Barrett said it should be no problem to begin publishing those inspection reports. It’s already a matter of public record how a restaurant scores.

“This would cover everything from McDonald’s to Fish Bones,” Barrett said.

City sanitarian and restaurant inspector Sue Reny personally inspects every Class A restaurant in the city annually, and each restaurant is given a score based on what she finds. A facility that has more than three critical problems — defined by the state as an issue that is “more than likely than other regulatory violations to pose a risk of contamination, illness or an imminent health hazard” — gets a failing grade.


Facilities that get marked for having 10 or more noncritical problems, such as not having hand soap available in the bathrooms, receive a failing grade as well.

Restaurants that fail can apply to be reinspected immediately. City Planner David Hediger said both the inspection and any reinspections would be posted.

If councilors approve, the city would list each restaurant and the most recent score it received, with a link to a downloadable PDF of Reny’s inspection report.

Councilor Michael Lachance said he did not think the change counted as a new policy.

“This information is already publicly available, and anyone can walk in now and get these reports,” Lachance said.

But Barrett said it would be a change.


“We find that people have a different attitude. It’s one thing to have to come in and request something and another for it to be posted on a website,” Barrett said.

Libby said he had heard from at least two local restaurants opposed to the idea.

“I would feel badly for a restaurant that had minor problems on the day the inspection occurred and they wound up getting a bad rap,” Libby said. “Even if they rectify it in a short period of time, it stays on the Web forever.”


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