Inspections designed to protect diners

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Armed with a hat, notebook, pen and binder of state code and with wet wipes attached to his belt, Whitney Kovener of Jackson County Health Department is ready for whatever lurks behind the kitchen door.

Kovener inspects nearly 200 retail food establishments twice a year to protect consumers from food-borne illness.

But not before he properly washes his hands — something he stresses to all restaurant employees.

Kovener visits all of Jackson County’s 173 permitted facilities, ranging from convenience stores with a fountain drink machine to schools to full-service restaurants.

He said most inspections are routine and aren’t related to unsanitary actions at the kitchens he inspects. Even if he has to make a repeat visit, he said, he works with the owners to keep them on track.

“As long as they work with me, I work with them,” Kovener said.

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