SHERIDAN — The percentage of out-of-compliance health inspections at Sheridan County businesses more than doubled during the first five months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
According to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture website, 22 of 73 routine health inspections conducted in Sheridan County between Jan. 1 and May 23 were out of compliance. This means roughly 30.1% of Sheridan County inspections were out of compliance.
During the same period in 2021, 13 of 92 Sheridan County routine health inspections — or 14.1% — were found to be out of compliance.
Among the out-of-compliance businesses in 2022, Buckhorn Grocery in Ranchester had the most violations: 14, according to a March 24 report. These included: meat being obtained from a source non-compliant with state law, ready-to-eat food being stored on top of raw foods, products not being date-marked and mold in the ice machine. More than 33 pounds of meat from non-approved sources were removed during the inspection.
Glazed ‘N Confused in Sheridan had nine violations, followed by the Pony Lounge and Sheridan Hampton Inn with eight each, the Daily Grind and the City Brew on Main Street with seven each and Taco Johns/Good Times with six violations.
In addition to the routine inspections, the Department of Agriculture conducted a special inspection of Jimmy John’s in Sheridan April 8 following complaints of vomiting and diarrhea from customers. It was determined three of the five employees were experiencing vomiting and diarrhea at the time of inspection but had continued working anyway.
The county’s increase in out-of-compliance inspections comes as the Wyoming Department of Health reports viral gastroenteritis has increased in Wyoming, particularly in Sheridan and Park counties.
Commonly described as “stomach flu” or “food poisoning,” gastroenteritis can spread easily when people eat or drink contaminated food and beverages, touch contaminated surfaces or are in close contact with someone already sick, said Matt Peterson, WDH surveillance epidemiologist.
To avoid spreading gastroenteritis, WDH recommends frequently washing hands, staying home if ill, thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces with bleach after vomiting or diarrhea, removing contaminated clothing and minimizing contact with other people while sick.
Park County — which is also listed by the WDH as a current gastroenteritis hot spot — experienced a similar but smaller increase in out-of-compliance health inspections, increasing from 24.8% during the first five months of 2021 to 26.9% during the same period in 2022.
The increases in out-of-compliance inspections in Sheridan and Park counties are outliers in Wyoming, which out-of-compliance inspections declined from 261 during the first five months of 2021 to 233 during the first five months of 2022.
Health inspections are conducted by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture/Consumer Health Services inspection specialists in most of the state with the exception of Laramie, Natrona, Sublette, Sweetwater and Teton counties, which have individual health departments.
All food establishment inspection reports from the Department of Agriculture are broken into two categories: foodborne illness risk factors and good retail practices. The former are the types of violations that can make someone ill if they are not corrected, while the latter are important for protecting public health, but have less potential to cause a significant foodborne illness.