For 35,000 resident Americans and two million tourists from the states, leisurely dining out in Costa Rica is part of the “Pure Life.”

Restaurants in Costa Rica are regulated by the Health Ministry, which on May 12 began doing something unusual.  It began inspecting hundreds of restaurants in the country for health code violations and operating permits.

The inspection sweep brought about the temporary closure of at least one outlet for such popular chains as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Spoon.

When the sweep began earlier in the month, Costa Rica’s approximately 38 inspectors were checking on about 200 restaurants a week.  They found the most common violation was the lack of food-handling certifications for staff. 

Costa Rica requires all employees at a restaurant to complete a food-handling course at the National Training Institute (INA).  Two McDonald’s were closed for a time for having workers without certifications.

INA classes quickly became full as food and drink establishments rushed to get their workers certified.

The inspection crackdown centered on Costa Rica’s Central Valley, where much of its population is concentrated, but other restaurants around the country were also targeted.

Inspections in Costa Rica are carried out by an inspector from the Health Ministry and a nurse or doctor.