Without as many food safety cops on the beat in Orange County, home to 3 million Californians, health inspectors last year still found record numbers of violations and temporarily closed more restaurants than ever before, according to an investigation by a local media outlet. The Orange County Register on Sunday reported “steep climbs in forced restaurant closures and major food safety violations last year, raising new concerns about Orange County’s shrunken oversight of restaurants and other food vendors.” http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-closed-sign-image26349349According to the newspaper serving California’s third most populous county, the local health department forced the temporary closure of 722 mostly small or mid-sized restaurants until managers resolved major health violations. This marked a 38-percent increase in restaurant closures in 2014 over the previous year. At the same time, Orange County Health Department investigators recorded 14,800 major violations at the food outlets it regulates — an 11-percent increase. Among those major violations were 779 for cockroaches, 189 for rodents, and nine for infestations in critical areas. Major violations are defined as any conditions posing an immediate danger to public health. A union spokesman told the Register that fewer restaurant inspectors means that those still on the job have less time to spend with restaurant owners and managers, resulting in more major violations being found at more restaurants and more being forced to close for short periods of time. Restaurant inspection fees have not been increased in Orange County since 2008, and county supervisors twice rejected fee hikes in 2014. They’ve also been divided on whether to adopt and fund a restaurant grading or color card system. Unlike many government jurisdictions, Orange County does not hide its list of restaurants closed for major health violations. It can be found here.