Over the past 12 months, 14 Marin restaurants and food shops required at least three follow-up inspections by county health officials after an initial, unannounced inspection, according to environmental health chief Phil Smith.

Officials often conduct a re-inspection after a routine inspection to ensure that any problems have been corrected. The first follow-up inspection is free, but if another inspection proves necessary, a fee of $100 is normally levied. If an inspector has to make a third follow-up, a fee of $300 is normally charged.

The inspections focus on "critical control points," such as minimum and maximum cooking and food storage temperature, stocked and serviceable sinks, sanitized storage to prevent contamination and no rodents, cockroaches or flies on the premises. The inspections also focus on facility maintenance, making sure no floors, walls or ceilings show any sign of deterioration or damage.

The inspection process is governed by CURFFL, or California Uniform Retail Food Facilities Law. That may change within the next few years, as a bill in the state Legislature, SB 144, proposes a major makeover of the current law. The bill is the result of a collaboration between the state’s restaurant association and a statewide coalition of county environmental health departments.