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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Audit Finds Oregon Falling Behind In Food Safety Inspections

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

The state of Oregon is running behind schedule when it comes to conducting food safety inspections. That's the conclusion of an audit released Tuesday by the Oregon Secretary of State.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is in charge of inspecting food manufacturers and grocery stores. There are more than 12,000 of those businesses in Oregon. They're supposed to be inspected regularly but the audit shows the state is at least three months behind schedule for nearly a quarter of them.

Auditors said high staff turnover is partly to blame. And that the number of inspectors isn't keeping up with the number of licensed food businesses, which has grown by a third over the past decade.

The Department of Agriculture said it generally agrees with the report and is actively working to reduce the inspections backlog.

The agency isn't responsible for inspecting restaurants. Those establishments are under the supervision of county health departments.