Budget cuts could affect restaurants inspections

Budget cuts could affect restaurants inspections

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - "We've been here 34 years. My family's been in the restaurant business since 1967," says Manuel Fury.

At Fury's in Metairie, the seafood and Italian dishes are plentiful, and the owner says his customers are like family.

"You see the same faces over and over," says Fury.

Fury admits, though, it can be tough to run a restaurant. He says state food inspectors help to keep everyone on point.

"They've been coming in the last few years every 3 months, and it kind of keeps you on your toes and you make sure you're doing the right things. They've found things here and there, and they put us back on track. We've been pretty good," says Fury.

The Department of Health and Hospitals oversees those food inspections at restaurants, but the visits from state inspectors could happen a lot less in the future.

The agency is possibly facing a more than 400 million dollar cut.

Those cuts would lead to a reduction in food inspections.

"The cuts to our public health means we'll lose the retail food sanitarians and the inspections associated with that. Cutting those in half, of course, will affect all the citizens across the state," says Jeff Reynolds with DHH.

The agency says it's expecting to cut their inspection staff in half.

It would means some places that get inspections maybe twice a year, due to their standing with the state, may only get inspected once.

"It's quite concerning, and you have to have personnel to come in and inspect, especially with the sheer number of restaurants in this area," says Mel Lavender.

Lavender says he loves to dine in restaurants, but he worries about how the lack of inspections could affect the entire industry.

"There will be many establishments who will cut costs, and if they know they're not going to be inspected then they're not going to do what they have to do," says Lavender.

"Ya know, it's like anything else, while the cat's away, the mouse will play," says Fury.

Fury worries about the larger restaurants that constantly have staff turnovers. He believes smaller family owned establishments will continue to do the right thing.

Still, he hopes the cuts will not affect the inspections he's grown so used to over the years.

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