BKD Special Report: Who inspects restaurants outside SA city limits?

SA Metro Health did inspections for Bexar County until last fall

KSAT's Behind the Kitchen Door recently traveled outside San Antonio city limits to investigate who is inspecting those restaurants.

San Antonio Metro Health inspects roughly 8,000 food establishments in the Alamo City, and did inspections for Bexar County until last fall.

Since then, Bexar County hired a private company whose inspectors are working their way down a list of 450 food establishments in the unincorporated part of the county.

Renee Green with the Bexar County Public Works Department tells KSAT about 150 places have not been inspected yet in the seven months they have managed their own inspections.

Across the KSAT viewing area, there is a mix of state, county and city inspectors. Armando Cortinas leads a four-person team of state inspectors for the entire region.

Cortina's team in based in San Antonio. He said they are getting the job done, but rural restaurants are a challenge.

"It's the driving distance. It's a drive to get there," said Cortinas, state team lead inspector.

Another factor is the new food establishments that have opened for business because of the South Texas oil and gas boom. The state insists it is still up to the task.

"Our inspectors head to that area. It's a big swath of counties within our region so they're easily down there once or twice a week," said Dr. Lillian Ringsdorf, State Dept. of Health Services.

A KSAT viewer notified Behind the Kitchen Door of a Tex Best Conoco gas station in Elmendorf that had not been inspected since 2012.

Bexar County immediately dispatched inspectors and the establishment received a marginal score of 25 demerits for mostly facility-related violations. 

Green adds even with a contractor handling restaurant inspections, Bexar County's goal has never changed.

"All we can do is be as aggressive as possible to make sure that the public is safe when they go to these establishments and they aren't endangering their health," Green said.

Residents can call 210-335-6700 for information regarding food establishments in the unincorporated parts of Bexar County, and ask to speak to environmental services.

The Department of State Health Services hotline for the KSAT viewing area is 210-949-2121 and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For a list of recent stories Mark Austin has done, click here.

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