A Global News investigation has revealed that restaurants in Nova Scotia can go up to six years without being inspected by the province’s regulators.
A key concept in the investigation is risk-based assessment, which determines how frequently restaurants will be examined by provincial inspectors.
Most provinces, including Nova Scotia, employ a risk-based assessment method.
Each establishment is labelled as high, medium, or low risk of leading to foodborne illnesses.
Risk is determined by a variety of factors, including the number of patrons the restaurant serves, the health of the people who are expected to eat there, what it serves and how food is prepared.
High-risk restaurants are establishments that serve food to people that are immunodeficient, such as in hospitals or schools. A medium establishment would be a restaurant like McDonald’s, while a low-risk establishment would be something like a farmer’s market.
Nova Scotia is supposed to carry out an inspection every six months on high-risk locations — the longest time between inspections in Canada, where most provinces use a standard of every three or four months.
The province also has the most infrequent inspections for medium-risk restaurants, as provinces throughout Canada normally use a standard of every six months, while Nova Scotia uses every 12 months.
The only province that has a longer inspection frequency for low-risk establishments is Newfoundland, which inspects every 24 months.