Monday, August 16, 2010

The ABC's of Dining Out: NYC Health Dept Introduces Restaurant Grading System

By Eric Yun

From now on your ABC’s will come in handy when dining out. As of July, the New York City Health Department, (DOH), launched a new initiative that requires restaurants to post DOH assigned letter grades for all their patrons to see.

The grading system was created by DOH to keep customers better informed about safety procedures restaurants are mandated to follow and to encourage better overall practices from restaurants.

The inspection process hasn’t changed—the more points you get, the worse your score is. Grades are determined by the number of sanitary violations the restaurant gets and how many points they accrue: “A” Grade restaurants having an inspection score of 0-13 violations; “B” Grade restaurants 14-27, and “C” Grade restaurants scored 28 or more.

The announcement by DOH to implement the program caused quite the stir among anxious restaurant owners. They voiced concerns that a B or C rating might drive away customers without them having a chance to improve their scores. As a compromise, establishments receiving a B or C grade are re- inspected soon after the initial inspection, and restaurant owners have the option to challenge the grade to the Health Department’s Administrative Tribunal before a final grade must be posted.

DOH estimates it will take a little over a year to complete all inspections and assign grades.
“New York City is justly famous for its restaurants,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New
York City Health Commissioner, “and many of them have excellent food-preparation practices. Too many, though, are not operating as safely as they should.” Farley went on to explain that letter grading help diners make more informed choices about where they eat. More importantly he concluded, “By making the inspection system more transparent, it gives restaurant operators an added incentive to meet the highest standards in food safety.”

Spark’s Deli in Long Island City made news last week when they became the first restaurant to receive an “A” Grade under the new system.

To learn more about the new grading system or search for the inspection results of a restaurant, visit

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