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City Needs More Health Department Inspectors

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Most of the restaurants in Baltimore City are operating without annual health department inspections; there just aren’t enough inspectors to go around. That’ s according to an audit released Wednesday morning at the Board of Estimates meeting.

The health department’s rules call for inspections of at least 65 percent of the city’s 5000 restaurants every year. But with only 13 food inspectors working, they made only a little more than half those inspections in 2016 and barely 40 percent in 2017.

The findings come just weeks after rats were found in food cases in two public markets in Baltimore.

The audit says the department needs to hire 28 more inspectors to meet its inspection goal. 

Doctor Leana Wen, health department commissioner, wrote in a statement that the findings reflect the “severe budgetary constraint of the health department.” The health department “receives less than 20 percent of its $150 million budget from the city’s general fund.”

In her weekly news conference Mayor Catherine Pugh said she would look to the state for more money, or for a grant.

“I think the city has gotten so reliant on what the city itself can do, we forget that we contribute to the state’s budget,” said Pugh.

Pugh said the department may need to re-evaluate how it allocates money.