by Doug Powell
State inspectors are shutting down twice as many Central Florida restaurants for food-safety violations than they did five years ago, and an upgrade to an online-complaint website can take some of the credit.
An Orlando Sentinel analysis of inspection records showed that state officials issued 139 emergency-closure notices to restaurants between July 2014 and June 2015. That compares with just 67 closures during the one-year period of July 2010 to June 2011.
Other parts of the state have seen the same spike.
In early 2014, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation fixed a technological shortcoming that allowed only Internet Explorer users to access its online-complaint form, agency spokeswoman Chelsea Eagle said.
That technological foible left the site inaccessible to about 88 percent of Internet users, including those on mobile devices, according to statistics from browser-tracking website StatCounter.
Along with the change to its online-complaint form, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation also created a new system starting in July 2014 that inspected problem restaurants more frequently. Under the old system, every restaurant got two routine inspections a year, Eagle said.
Now those that have been the source of a foodborne illness or have repeat violations get inspected as often as once a month.
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