Since You Asked: Restaurant inspection scores haven't changed

I would like to know why the Mail Tribune changed the way it reports restaurant inspections. The list used to include the highest and lowest scores so readers could decide where to eat. Jackson County's Web site, which you suggest, is not updated in a timely manner. Therefore, the public never really gets the current information. Why the change?

— Julie M., Medford

We beg to differ with your observation, Julie. The Mail Tribune hasn't changed its reporting of restaurant-inspection scores since making them a regular feature nearly five years ago.

Consult either the printed lists (usually in Sunday editions) or online versions at, and you'll see we report in weekly installments all Jackson County restaurants' most recent marks, including failures and perfect scores. If it looks like failures go unreported, that's because they're infrequent, the most recent in September.

The county health department e-mails the information monthly, when it updates its online spreadsheet. This hasn't changed in almost five years, either, when the county started posting scores to the Internet. Because restaurants are evaluated only twice a year, disclosing their two scores according to the month inspectors visit is as current as it gets, says Jackson Baures, division manager for Jackson County Environmental Health.

The county's spreadsheet actually goes further than the newspaper, listing the number of "critical violations," highlighted in red after the official inspection score. However, it doesn't explain what constituted the violations. You could find out by requesting the restaurant's file at the health department. A newspaper reporter does this and writes up file notes for publication whenever eateries fail.

Before 2005, the newspaper listed only businesses that failed inspections in a monthly "restaurant report." This ran for about three years, becoming less frequent — bimonthly and then quarterly — by 1999.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; e-mail to

Share This Story