Q&A: Food records


From the Daily Reporter (Greenfield):

Q: We are following up on a story on the potential that spoiled food made its way into a Greenfield restaurant.

The Indiana State Police stopped a box truck about 30 miles from Greenfield that had a refrigeration unit temperature of 76 degrees. A state police press release noted much of the food was condemned, and the truck had just been to Greenfield.

No one informed the local health department, area restaurants, etc. My call to the health department yesterday was the first they had heard of the incident or the potential that spoiled food had been delivered.

A health department employee told me she received a message from state police saying they do not have a copy of the manifest. I’m after that email. She said emails regarding food safety are confidential. Is that right?

A: As you know, the presumption is that records are disclosable unless an agency can cite statutory authority that allows it or requires it to keep the record confidential.

I’m not aware of a statute that makes records concerning food safety confidential. If the health department denies your records request, ask for the state law code citation that they are relying on to keep that record secret.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.