Foodservice Equipment Reports

Restaurant Grades Still On Hold In Pittsburgh

Restaurant-grading systems have been in place in Los Angeles County for a decade and in New York City for the past year. Pittsburgh’s foray into using a similar letter-grading system for health inspections, however, is on hold.

It’s a collision of state regulations versus county food code. The Allegheny County Health Department has tabled the proposal, which would require all county restaurants to post their inspection scores directly on their doors immediately following their annual inspection. The vote was delayed to ensure the system complies with state law, Act 106, on restaurant inspections. The proposed rating system was based on the county's food code; if the health board decides to adopt the system, regulations would have to be rewritten to comply with the new state code, which has no restaurant rating system.

Last year, the state legislature updated the state food-safety law, basing it on Food and Drug Administration standards, which are more up-to-date and detailed than Allegheny County's food code. For example, the state code requires cut vegetables be refrigerated and requires gloves for food workers in contact with ready-to-eat food. The proposed restaurant rating system, which would give restaurants a letter grade, a numerical score or both, would need the approval of the Board of Health and Allegheny County Council. The proposed system is opposed by the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association.

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