Deciding where to dine will be as easy as A-B-C, under the new grading system coming soon from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
Under the final grading rules from the DOHMH, restaurants will now receive letter grades, based on evaluations of food safety in their kitchens. Restaurants will be required to immediately post their grade on their front window, door, or outside wall where it will be clearly visible to the public. The inspections are scheduled to begin in late July.
“Too many [restaurants] are not operating as safely as they should” said DOHMH Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley. “Letter grading enables diners to make more informed choices about where to eat. And by making the inspection system more transparent, it gives restaurant operators an added incentive to meet the highest standards in food safety.”
Restaurants that score 0 to 13 violation points on an initial inspection will receive an “A” grade. Those scoring 14 to 27 points will receive a “B,” and restaurants with 28 points or more will receive a “C.” A “C” indicates that while a restaurant has failed the sanitary inspection, its violations are not compelling enough to warrant closure.
The owners of the eatery may choose to contest a “B” or “C” grade before the Health Department’s Administrative Tribunal and post a “Grade Pending” sign instead. Each grade card comes with a serial number that can be tracked by the DOHMH, and an incorrect posting may result in the suspension of a restaurant’s permit to operate.
Health inspectors will revisit restaurants periodically to ensure that high standards of food safety are maintained. These re-inspections are a restaurant’s next chance for a new grade. “B” and “C” restaurants will be revisited more frequently than “A” restaurants.
Not all restaurateurs are in favor of the new grading system, saying that the inspections may cause many restaurants to go out of business, adversely affecting both the restaurant industry and the city’s economy at a time when the economy is already unstable.
Officials will be able to judge the impact of the new rules next year, when the grading is complete.
The DOHMH encourages restaurant owners to familiarize themselves with the updated list of violations, and complete a free self-inspection worksheet. Both the revised violation list and worksheet are available online at nyc.gov/health.