Charles County Leads the Way in Capitalizing on New Technologies in Food Inspection

The MACo summer conference featured a session on how Maryland’s various county health departments can leverage new technologies to improve food safety inspections. The session was moderated by Senator Addie Eckardt.

It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought several challenges to the everyday duties of government. The ability to conduct food safety inspections, a function critical to many local economies and already challenging in some jurisdictions, was made even more burdensome in light of COVID. 

Lisa Laschalt, Director of Environmental Health for Charles County, spoke with other county health officials about how her team is innovating and using technologies such as 3D mapping, mobile video conferencing, and other new tools to pilot virtual inspections of food service facilities. This program aims to keep the residents of her County healthy and her team safe.  

According to Laschalt, one of the greatest benefits of this pilot has been the new communication between her staff and owners of these facilities. Like never before, small business owners and regional managers can participate in the inspections in real time and understand what her department is looking for. This technology also allows staff in the field to video call into the office when they are unsure of a decision or need a second opinion. Laschalt noted that this pilot has been beneficial in saving time, improving communication, and improving accountability, “Some people ask, ‘Well doesn’t this mean you won’t catch them doing wrong then?’ My perspective is that if there’s some broken it’s more important that it gets fixed, not to have a gotcha moment.”   

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: