New York Restaurant Report Cards Reduce Reported Cases of Food Poisoning

Nearly anyone who has grown up in the United States knows what a grade of “A” signifies. “A” high school students get into better colleges and universities, “A” college grads get recruited for better jobs. More than a letter, the A represents someone who’s mastered a subject or excelled in a certain area. Easy enough to understand (if not always true), so why not apply it to other areas?

Not to long ago, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg did just that when it came to restaurant inspections, and it seems to be having the desired effect.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A Farley and other health officials announced initial data Tuesday showing salmonella infections decreased by 13.5 percent over the first full year the city has used letter grades. The Health Department said 1,296 cases of salmonella were reported in 2010 and preliminary data show 1,121 cases in 2011. {AP/Google}

Restaurants are given grades of A, B or C (presumably the total dumps that get Ds and Fs just get shut down) on their sanitary conditions, which they’re required to post in a visible, public place. “C” restaurants get inspected more often than “A” or “B” restaurants, and probably make people passing by reconsider their lunch or dinner plans.

While the grading has been mostly well received by New Yorkers, even supporters acknowledge the system isn’t perfect. Two inspectors visiting the same restaurant can assign two different grades, and if one of those grades is a “B” and the other is a “C,” the second one is enough to bring increased fines from the city as well as the inevitable 2nd thoughts from potential customers.


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