LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Dozens of restaurants covered by the Central Virginia region of the Environmental Health Office do not have current inspection reports posted online, and employees have trouble locating paper records.
The district covers Lynchburg as well as Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell Counties.
WFXR’s investigation began with a post on social media that had pictures of what appeared to be moldy bread.
The woman who posted it claims she got the bread from the McDonald’s restaurant on Memorial Avenue in Lynchburg. We could not reach the woman who posted the photos, and the McDonalds management declined to comment.
“We inspect restaurants anywhere from one to four times per year,” said Jim Bowles, the local Environmental Health Manager. “Routine inspections.”
The last inspection WFXR found of that McDonalds was from May of 2018, more than a year-and-a-half ago.
“I’m sure that’s not correct,” said Bowles. “I will have to say that our online inspection reports are still maybe a little off.”
Still, Bowles himself couldn’t find a paper record of a recent inspection, either. Digging deeper into his system, he found an inspection from may of this year, but he says it was entered incorrectly as a customer complaint.
“Bad data entry. Picked the wrong type of inspection.”
But because it was entered improperly, that report is not available to the public.
That is just one of at least 65 area restaurants WFXR found that currently have no publicly-available inspection report.
“I think it’s something that people need to be able to see,” said Appomattox resident Shana Black, “and I think if people knew, it would help prevent a lot of like these surprises where you go places and it’s not up to standards. I think if people could look at that stuff, it would let them know before they go and spend their money on it.”
Bowles says most or all of these restaurants have, in fact, been inspected. He says he’s not sure why so many reports aren’t available but says it might be a data transfer issue with the Commonwealth’s new database.
“What you’re referring to is the environmental health database,” said Maria Reppas, the Communications Director for the Virginia Department of Health. “Let me see if I can track down any information on that.”
We reached out to owners and managers of several of these 65 restaurants, but those we were able to contact declined to comment.
It’s important to note that this does not mean any of these restaurants have any violations against them. It means we are unable to access their most recent inspections.
We will continue to follow-up and provide updates if and when the Environmental Health Department gets the reports sorted out.