PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Portland's Public Health division is revamping it's food codes to be more in line with the state's.
Portland Public Health Director, Julie Sullivan, says the changes have been a year in the makin, and will hopefully make running a restaurant in the city more manageable.
Two months ago, three businesses along Portland's waterfront were forced to shutdown due to a rat infestation, the Porthole, Comedy Connection, and Harbor's Edge Banquet Hall. All three shared a kitchen and food license and all three were reopened within a few days after a re-inspection; though the owner has since made the decision to close the Comedy Connection for good, citing low attendance records since the incident.
Sullivan says those closures had nothing to do with the city's decision to adjust their health codes, but they have learned from the incidents and hope other restaurants have too.
The city has about 700 restaurants. Each must be inspected every other year. Sullivan says the city's food codes are somewhat outdated, and can often clash with the state or even federal codes.
Fourteen months ago, the city hired their first health inspector, Michele Sturgeon, who decided it might be easier to just adopt the state's food codes, that way, restaurant owners only need to comply with one set of rules.
Along with the changes, comes a hefty fine; if a restaurant fails an inspection and the inspector needs to come back, the restaurant pays $75. If they fail again, they owe a $150 fine above that, it's $300 and they're shut down.
The city also hopes to revamp their website to keep restaurant visitors up to date on recent health inspections, and hopes to add another health inspector and administrator on to tackle Portland's more than 700 kitchens.
The city council will hear the proposal on the food code changes November 5th. The public will have the chance to weigh in on the changes a week later.