2011-06-17 / Top Stories

DOH Monitors Posting Of Restaurant Grades

The city’s Health Department is conducting targeted, unannounced inspections to ensure that restaurants comply with conspicuously posting sanitary inspection letter grades. The Department began the letter grading program last July to help consumers make informed choices about where to eat and to provide a new incentive for restaurants to maintain the highest food safety standards. Restaurants that meet that standard are awarded an A.

Almost a year into the program about three-fourths of restaurants have received a graded inspection and should therefore be posting either letter grades or “grade pending” cards.

Regular inspections by the Health Department, however, have revealed that some restaurants are not posting their required cards; the Health Department has issued more than 800 violations related to letter grade posting, 704 for not posting a grade and 100 for not posting in a clearly visible place. By law, the letter grade card must be on a front window, door or outside wall where it is easily seen by people passing by, and within 5 feet of the entrance and from 4 to 6 feet off the ground or floor.

In addition to the ongoing targeted inspections, the Department’s Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation inspectors check at every sanitary inspection that a restaurant’s required letter grade is posted. The agency also responds to complaints made to 311 about restaurants that are not posting their grades or not posting them conspicuously. Any restaurants found not posting are issued a violation that can result in a fine of up to $1000 for the first offense. Repeat violations can result in greater fines. Fines are ultimately decided at the Administrative Tribunal.

Consumers are encouraged to look for letter grades near restaurant entrances and view complete inspection information on the agency’s website: nyc.gov/ health/restaurant. If the correct grade is not posted or it isn’t near the restaurant’s entrance, diners should notify the Health Department by calling 311.

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