We Need Consistency in Restaurant Grading

After obtaining several million health department inspections, reviewing tens of thousands of health department reports, sifting through hundreds of health department websites and analyzing dozens of scoring schema I offer some conclusions.

We need consistency in restaurant grading.

 Consistency in restaurant grading score card

A+ Restaurant Food Safety RatingThe FDA has developed, over decades, a simple inspection report card. Using this standardized report card is the first key to consistency. In my blog titled “Problems With Restaurant Food Safety Grading”, I review variances in food safety definitions.

There can be very few reasons not to use a universal score card and none of them hold any merit in the goal of improving the public health.

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Challenges of Health Department Inspections: The Tarnished Image

It has become common place for the media to post failed restaurant inspections. The public seems to be ‘hungry’ for this information with the growth of television shows focusing on such issues. These types of stories can lead to the demise of the tarnished restaurant.

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Challenges of Health Department Inspections: Declining Dollars

Budget cuts can threaten public safety.

Federal and state governments continually face budget challenges. Often, they choose to cut services when there doesn’t really seem to be a problem. The logic likely is, why spend money on restaurant inspections when there hasn’t been any major food borne epidemic in months or longer? It is this type of flawed logic that can lead to a disaster.

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Problems with Restaurant Food Safety Grading

Food Code definitions become the first problem to address in universality.

In the 1990s the FDA created a Food Code.
“The Food Code consists of model requirements for safeguarding public health and ensuring food is unadulterated and honestly presented when offered to the consumer. This model is offered for adoption by local, state, and federal governmental jurisdictions…”

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Here are some real Health Inspector stories that may turn your stomach.


A well-known restaurant in a large metropolitan city had a recurring mouse infestation, which had been identified and a health inspector had written orders to the owner to eliminate the rodents. The premise was re-inspected and a wait staff employee was observed taking a soup cup, which had mouse droppings in it, emptying the droppings onto a floor and using that same cup, filling it with soup, to serve to a customer. The Inspector stopped the soup from being served to the customer, immediately closed the restaurant for non-compliance to previous orders. The news of the restaurant’s closure made the newspaper. The restaurant re-opened after it complied with the written orders, but closed permanently a few weeks later, because the general public lost confidence in the establishment.

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