There are some 18,000 restaurants in the state of Kansas and about 30 inspectors to cover all but two counties, so food safety inspection keeps a few individuals busy all the time, the Barton County Commission learned this week.
The commissioners received a report from the Barton County Health Department and from Greg Willis, the regional director of the state Department of Agriculture inspection division.
Willis told the commissioners that he, located out of Hoisington, works with five other inspectors to cover 42 counties of western Kansas.
Restaurants, grocery stores, food warehouses, manufacturers and lodging facilities come under their inspection services, thought they do little with the lodging, due to a lack of funding for those inspections.
“So I do wear many hats,” Willis commented, adding that the work is important because of the potential for incorrect food handling to affect so many people.
He said he’s generally pleased with what local inspections show. “Great Bend’s in pretty good shape, as far as restaurants go.”
In response to a question about the bedbug concern that has been reported nationally, Willis said there is a growth in their incidence in recent years.
It is believed that is because of the growth in international travel.
He advised looking at the mattress in the room, before ever unpacking. If there are signs of brown flecks along the edge of the mattress, ask for a different room.
Just because it is a nice place, doesn’t mean it’s safe, either, he noted. “Some of the most affluent hotels have bedbugs.”
The commissioners were also brought up to date on the Health Department’s participation in the Women, Infant and Children program that is a federal food program.
They were told that in May, more than $50,000 in WIC groceries were redeemed in Barton County alone.
The local Health Department administers the program over a six county area and caters to about 1,700 women. Of those, between 900 to 950 are in Barton County.