Health Dept. says it needs more inspectors to keep your food safe

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Health inspectors work to make sure the food you are served at Milwaukee restaurants is safe -- but the Milwaukee Health Department says it doesn't have enough of them.

At a Public Safety Committee meeting last week, the Milwaukee Health Department presented a request to increase its staff members. It's asking for money to hire two additional workers.

One Milwaukee alderman says it's worth it -- especially in the long run.

The staff at Carnevor in downtown Milwaukee take pride in the food preparation and cleanliness of the kitchen and food. Owner Omar Shaikh, co-owner and president of SURG Restaurant Group says it's important that all restaurants do the same.

"It's really the public that's entitled to clean food, clean kitchens and restaurants that run in the proper code," Shaikh said.

Milwaukee health inspectors make sure the restaurants you love are clean, and that the food is safe. Shaikh says he supports hiring more inspectors in Milwaukee.

"As a restaurant owner, we support it. I think you'll find that the good restaurant operators support as many health inspectors as they need," Shaikh said.

Alderman Joseph Dudzik says the Health Department is short-staffed, and is already working hard just to maintain minimum requirements.

"They started looking at the number of inspections they are doing and see how far they are falling behind and looking at state standards and FDA standards and go 'we are not meeting the minimum standard we should be meeting as a community,'" Alderman Dudzik said.

Health officials are now looking to add additional staff members in its 2015 budget. Dudzik says the request should be considered, and urged the public to look at the bigger picture.

"Everybody is concerned about increased taxes and fees, but if it comes down to having an E. coli outbreak with the economic impact of 2,000 people getting sick in the city of Milwaukee or worse, I really try to weigh the economic benefits and realities out there if we don't spend the money," Dudzik said.

"I think it's a positive thing to add a couple of inspectors. This will help ensure they do their jobs properly," Shaikh said.

The Health Department released a statement to FOX6 News saying two more inspectors would help them to reach the FDA's recommended minimum number of inspections per establishment in the city. They say they would like to continue moving toward that goal, but have not yet determined if they will be formally asking for these new positions in the next budget cycle at this time.