Food Service Industry Push Back on Letter Grades

I am for a more fair system when it comes to inspections and grading. The grading numbers may not mean much, and this is because inspections are snap shots of events and there are all sorts of bias and human elements. However, when the facility maintains its records of food safety efforts, its more like seeing a moving picture. When inspections or audits make an evaluation based on what they see, and what they determine to be required in the firm's food safety program, now you have something that has the ability to be meaningful. Its the firm's daily practices that will make or break a sanitation program. Lets start evaluating that. 

But wait, that means a food service operation has to have an internal food safety program to evaluate! 

Too bad restaurants don't have to do have one, its not required, they "just follow the code". 

That mentality doesn't work and all this controversy about grading being a poor measure is true; but it is just a subterfuge for the fact that the FS industry as a whole will not agree to a mandatory self-control program that would allow checks and balances. Fortunately, most of the rest of the supply chain has. 

Here is what the FRA has to say about grading in 2005,

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/no-state-issued-letter-grades-for-restaurant-inspe/nJwwH/

and thier stance has not changed, in aspite of the fact that reports from agencies with letter grading support risk reduction has occurred. 

If this is to catch on we have to overcome some of the problems that are rightly recognized. Its just we have not understood what food safety management is and applied it to Food Service and this means we have no real measurement we can rely on. 

The latest pushback from NYC. 

NEW YORK: City Council throws rotten tomatoes at restaurant grades
11.mar.12
New York Daily News
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/city-council-throws-rotten-tomatoes-restaurant-grades-article-1.1036545?localLinksEnabled=false
It is but a slight exaggeration to say that everyone who eats in a restaurant in New York City — which means essentially everyone who lives, works or visits — loves the A, B and C placards posted in eatery windows.
Those grades, based on Health Department inspections, have had powerful effects. They have improved restaurant sanitation, reduced food-borne illnesses like salmonella and boosted business at restaurants that have earned the top mark.
What’s not to like?
Ask the City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn.
The industry has fought letter grading from the moment the Bloomberg administration floated the idea. Restaurateurs have griped repeatedly that inspections are too tough, fines are too high and the marks are based on poorly chosen criteria.
Now, Quinn & Co. have produced a survey purporting to find that the program desperately needs reform. A questionnaire asked restaurateurs their opinions about the grading. Of the city’s 24,000 restaurants, 1,297 responded.
Based on the survey, Quinn is calling for a reevaluation of the violation system, an ombudsman to adjust inspection results before hearings are held and an “early warning system” to weed out supposed inconsistencies in inspections.
She needs to get specific and prove her proposals will not undermine the most important consumer protection in recent New York memory.

 

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