Dirty Dining: New grading system will impact how often restaurants are inspected

If your favorite restaurant is following the food safety rules and runs a clean shop, chances are inspectors won't be checking up on the place very often.

However, if there's an eatery that's repeatedly not following food safety rules and is a risk to the public's health, state inspectors will be out there much more often throughout the year.

It's all dependent on a new risk-based inspection system starting July 1.

Under this new inspection frequency program, restaurants that have been compliant in following the state's rules and regulations will only be inspected once a year and assigned a "Level 1" status.

Meanwhile, those restaurants that may pose a higher risk to public safety will be visited by state inspectors four times per year and assigned a "Level 4" status.

You will begin to see this new assigned risk level on each restaurant's actual inspection report. All food service establishments, from restaurants to food trucks, will be categorized by risk levels rated one through four.

Each eatery will be assigned that specific risk level after an annual inspection or when a restaurant is applying for a license and receives its initial licensing inspection.

And don't worry, if you file a complaint about a restaurant to the state, the Division of Hotels and Restaurants will still revisit the establishment and conduct an additional inspection as soon as possible, regardless of its assigned risk level.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's (DBPR) is starting this new risk-based inspection frequency program in accordance with a law that passed during the 2013 legislative session. `

And restaurants will have a chance to improve their risk-level status, too. At the beginning of each fiscal year, DBPR will reassess each establishment's inspection frequency classification and change their risk-level, if need be.

If you want to see how clean your favorite restaurant is, you can find its latest inspection on the state's website at: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp

And if you have a complaint on a specific eatery, call the state immediately at 850-487-1395 and an inspector will visit the restaurant unannounced.