The City Council in Lewiston, ME, will still vote next month to end local restaurant inspections, but there will not be any survey of businesses before then.
Lewiston currently inspects restaurants in the city under an agreement with the state. But the paperwork is ready to blow up that agreement if the City Council opts to take the action in March.
At the same time, the City Council is ready to terminate budget authority for restaurant inspections and eliminate the sanitarian position that conducts restaurant inspections.
Drastic actions have been on the agenda in Lewiston since January when DaVinci’s, a popular local restaurant with a cockroach infestation, was asked to close for nine days to address the human health and food safety problem. Restaurant staff and a pest control contractor have worked on the issue since 2023.
Cockroaches are harbingers of disease and pathogens. Their shed exoskeletons and feces can trigger asthma in otherwise healthy people, and a significant cockroach infestation can be incredibly unhealthy for people. Roaches also leave behind stains and nasty smells. If they, or their waste, come into contact with food, humans can develop food poisoning-like symptoms that may become severe enough to require hospitalization.
The Lewiston City Council on March 19 is still looking at firing its veteran restaurant inspector and letting the state take over restaurant inspections in the city.
But in an immediate political reaction, the city put its long-time and respected Code Enforcement Director, David Hediger, on administrative leave and prepared to axe Louis Lachance, who inspected DaVinci’s.
Mayor Carl Sheline wanted the City to survey businesses about code enforcement, but the Council nixed that idea. A Maine’s public employee union spokesman said the suggested survey was “disgusting and unethical.”
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