Foodservice Equipment Reports

New York Corks The Whines, Surveys Operators On Letter Grade System

Last issue, we reported on Chicago’s new self-certification rule: Through November 2014, recently inspected restaurants with no history of foodborne illness will be able to police themselves and send inspection reports to city hall, freeing Chicago’s field inspectors to focus on high-risk establishments. It sounds as though New York’s operators might like to follow suit.

They have been complaining for months about the city’s letter-grade health-inspection system. Although the health department says it has awarded an A to 77% of the city’s more than 22,000 restaurants—meaning no fines are collected--total fine revenue will likely set a record $50 million by the time the ’12 fiscal year ends June 30, a more than 50% increase in two years. City officials say that is due to the more frequent inspections of the B- and C-rated restaurants.

But the accumulating accusations that the city is fattening its coffers on violations at B- and C-rated eateries, since A-rated restaurants are fine-free, led the City Council to survey operators to find out how the system impacts on their business.

By the end of January, nearly 1,000 restaurant operators had responded to the survey, which asks operators about their experiences with the city’s health department inspections. You can view the survey here.

An oversight hearing will be held this month to discuss the survey’s findings.

The New York State Restaurant Association advocated for the survey and is working with elected officials and the Department of Health to ensure that the inspection system is fair, equitable and focused on food-safety training and education.

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