City cooks up new restaurant ratings system

With complaints about food-borne illness on the rise and rodent infestation a continuing problem, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy State Senate Majority Leader Jeff Klein announced an updated inspection system for city restaurants.
Under the new model, unveiled Saturday, January 31 and to be phased in over the next two years, the New York City Health Department (DOH) will increase inspections for less sanitary restaurants and require all city eateries to clearly display sanitation letter grades.
Proponents of the system, including DOH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden and State Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz - both of whom joined Bloomberg and Klein at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge for the announcement - believe the approach will focus city resources on establishments that pose the greatest public health risk, while placing no burden on restaurants that maintain optimal sanitary conditions.
“We know New York City’s restaurants are the best in the world and we want them also to be the cleanest,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “As sanitation improves, so will business,” he added.
In introducing the plan, the legislators cited improvements in business and sanitary standards and a 20 percent decline in hospitalizations for food-borne illnesses in Los Angeles since the city began posting sanitary grades in food service establishments.
The new approach will steer the city toward the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation of at least three complete inspections of full service restaurants each year, according to Klein and Bloomberg. Currently, most city restaurants are inspected on an annual basis.
Frieden said in a statement that the initiative “will help consumers make more informed choices about where to eat, while increasing restaurant operators’ motivation to stay clean.” He added, “New York City will have safer restaurants and fewer cases of food poisoning.”

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