Health department inspects facilities

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a monthly series of articles about programs at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. The articles are written by the health department.


PARKERSBURG — One of the many ways the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department’s Environmental Health Program works to protect the public and prevent diseases is regularly inspecting all retail food establishments. Sanitarians must follow Chapter 16 of the West Virginia State Code.

Every restaurant, food stand, school cafeteria, hospital, nursing home and any facility that provides meals must meet the regulations set by the state code. Sanitarians have a check list that they cover each time they inspect a facility.

There are two distinct types of violations. A critical violation means that there is the potential for a health hazard or food contamination. Examples might be food stored or being served at an improper temperature. A non-critical violation would not make someone sick such as a dirty floor.

As the sanitarian inspects the facility, managers are given the opportunity to make corrections. If a correction can be made on the spot, the violation is still noted, but it decreases the need for a reinspection.

MOVHD uses a risk-based inspection. This means that the number of inspections per year are based on past inspections, the number of individuals served, as well as the population served.

If a restaurant or other facility serves foods that are a potentially hazardous food if not properly stored and served, they could receive more frequent inspections. Another criteria is if the population served might be highly susceptible to disease such as the elderly.

Each facility must have at least one manager that has passed a training that is approved by the National Conference for Food Protection. MOVHD offers the ServSafe program. On the MOVHD website,, there is a listing of approved programs and more information about ServSafe.

All employees and volunteers that handle food served to the public or in a facility must have a food handlers card. MOVHD offers food handlers classes in Wood County on the third Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Classes are offered in the other counties as needed.

For more information or to file a complaint about a facility, call 304-420-1460.