Issued by City Manager Robert Layton
The City of Wichita was recently notified of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s decision to discontinue its food service inspection contract. This notification did not cite any deficiency in the City’s inspection program or offer an opportunity to pursue program options. (Kansas Department of Agriculture press release attached)
Since 1978, the City of Wichita has contracted with the State of Kansas to provide the citizens of Wichita and Sedgwick County with quality food service inspection services. The quality and quantity of food service inspections is stipulated in the annual contract created by the State of Kansas, requiring a minimum of one inspector for every 400 food service establishments. This standard was consistently met by the City of Wichita.
Under the previous contract, 80 percent of inspection fees were provided to the City of Wichita to pay for inspection services. That funding of approximately $500,000 was totally dedicated to food service establishment inspections, fulfilling the inspection ratio requirements of the State contract.
Credible and accountable food service inspection is of vital importance to the consumers of Wichita and Sedgwick County, as well as for the more than 2,000 food service establishments that include restaurants, bars, mobile food vendors, school cafeterias and convenience stores.
Local inspections provided by locally-administered programs have been essential to meet the day-to-day demands of our public, often coordinating public safety concerns and business requirements to ensure prompt and efficient service.
During its operation of the food service inspection program, City staff:
- Assured that special events such as the Wichita River Festival, Blacktop Nationals, the Great Plains Renaissance Festival and other events with multiple food vendors received appropriate scrutiny. The volume of inspections, combined with the extreme time constraints to perform those inspections, was extremely demanding for City of Wichita inspectors.
- Combined restaurant inspections with other inspections such as grease interceptors to streamline the inspection process.
- Responded to the recent dramatic growth of mobile food service vendors in Wichita through a specialized inspection effort.
As this service transitions to the State of Kansas, the City of Wichita will do everything in its power to ensure that there is no compromise of the food service inspections that have earned the respect and confidence of the hundreds of thousands of Wichitans and guests who regularly visit the many quality food service establishments in our community.