In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, Randy Ritchey loads a plastic bag of groceries into the cart of Marianne Nielsen at a grocery store in Grants Pass, Oregon.

In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, Randy Ritchey loads a plastic bag of groceries into the cart of Marianne Nielsen at a grocery store in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Jeff Barnard/AP

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’s office.

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.