2010-09-03 / Top Stories

DOH: Majority Of Restaurants Earn An ‘A’

Some 250 New York City restaurants have now completed New York City’s new two-step process for sanitary inspections, and a tally of their scores shows that many are acing the test.

A new summary from the Health Department shows that 80 percent of the 250 restaurants to complete graded inspections have earned A or B grades. Nearly half – 48 percent – have earned A’s for their sanitary conditions and food safety practices.

Another 31 percent have achieved B’s.

Just 12 percent of this initial sample received C grades, and 8 percent were closed until they could correct direct health hazards.

Before the letter-grading program began, the Health Department predicted that about a third of restaurants would initially achieve A grades under the new system, and that most restaurants would get B’s.

The early results suggest that restaurant operators are exceeding that goal.

“These findings show that restaurants are taking their inspections seriously and that those who make a concerted effort can achieve our highest grade,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Most restaurants maintain good sanitary conditions, and the City’s new letter grading system is giving them tools and incentives to do better.

As more and more restaurant operators improve their practices, we anticipate fewer cases of food-borne illness. Overall, we consider these initial numbers very encouraging.”

Under the new system, any restaurant initially falling short of an A gets a repeat visit within two to three weeks, enabling the operator to improve food safety practices.

These results show that after the first month of letter grading, many restaurants have made necessary refinements after initial inspections and improved their grade to an A or B upon re-inspection.

Halfway through the new program’s fifth week – after beginning graded inspections on July 27 – the Health Department has conducted initial inspections at 1,825 establishments throughout the five boroughs. It will take approximately a year to 14 months to complete a full graded inspection cycle for all of the city’s 24,000 restaurants.

A restaurant receiving 0 to13 violation points on an initial inspection will receive a grade of A, which must be posted immediately.

Restaurants that receive more violation points during their initial inspection get a chance to improve their scores on a re-inspection conducted a short time later.

Under the new system, 14-27 points equates to a B grade and 28 or more points equates with a C.

If a restaurant wants to contest its re-inspection score, they can schedule a hearing at the agency’s administrative tribunal and the tribunal then makes a final ruling.

A restaurant can post a “grade pending” sign while waiting for a hearing, but once that opportunity passes, a letter grade must be posted prominently at the establishment’s entry.

Consumers can also review details of inspections results on the Health Department’s improved restaurant inspection website at nyc.gov/health/res taurants.

The City will continue to close establishments that pose immediate health risks, and the Health Department will inspect restaurants with B or C grades more often than those receiving A’s, focusing resources on the establishments that need more monitoring.

The agency will also continue to work on many fronts to help restaurant operators adopt grade-A sanitary practices.

Besides mailing detailed information to all establishments subject to grading, and posting it online, the Health Department will host another round of multi-lingual workshops in all five boroughs in the fall to explain procedures and answer questions.

More than 2,500 restaurant operators, kitchen workers and staff have attended these trainings to date.

To learn more about restaurant grading, please visit nyc.gov/health.

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