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Restaurant Grading Begins in New York

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By the end of Wednesday, several restaurant windows in New York are quite likely to display a new attraction alongside the usual menus and reviews: a brilliantly colored placard bearing a letter grade.

 

But much less visible is the months-long effort by city health officials to prepare for this day — the debut of their controversial new system to rate the cleanliness of the city’s more than 24,000 restaurants with an A, B or C.

 

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has added 23 inspectors to its 157 to conduct annual visits that are expected to rise by more than one-third, to 85,000 from 60,000. The wireless hand-held computers that inspectors use to calculate scores have been upgraded with new hard drives, memory cards and software.

 

The department’s printing presses have produced 28,000 letter-grade placards and enough new procedural guides for every food establishment in the city. Workshops to help restaurant employees and operators understand the new system — conducted in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese — have attracted about 2,000 participants.

 

And starting Wednesday, a new Web site, nyc.gov/health/restaurants, will offer the public up-to-date specifics on each restaurant’s inspection, as well as maps and even street views of the establishments.

 

“This is the biggest change we’ve implemented in many years,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, commissioner of the health department, which has budgeted $3.2 million for the effort.

 

Public pressure exerted by the letter grades, Dr. Farley said, will “force restaurants to be diligent about good food-safety practices.”

 

The city is not the only body gearing up. Two weeks ago, the New York State Restaurant Association, which has fought the grading system since it was first proposed 19 months ago, sent a letter to some 3,500 eating establishments, rallying opposition and raising money for a possible legal challenge, said Robert Bookman, legislative counsel for the group’s New York City chapters.

 

“We don’t know that the government can compel you to post a sign that expresses an opinion about your business that you do not share,” Mr. Bookman said.

 

The new ratings will arrive piecemeal. During inspections on Wednesday, only the 8-by-10-inch placards designating an A grade are expected to be posted, since restaurants that receive a lower grade will automatically be inspected again at a later date. If the restaurants are still unhappy with their grade, they have the right to seek an administrative hearing.

 

Indeed, the first B’s and C’s may not be posted until late August, and rating placards will not reach all restaurants until fall 2011.

 

The new inspection rules require restaurateurs to post the placards prominently, displaying ratings that were previously available only at the health department or on its Web site. Failure to do so will be punishable by a $1,000 fine, with additional penalties for counterfeiting.

 

The placards have been knocked out at the rate of 6,000 an hour in the department’s print shop in the basement of 80 Centre Street. The blue A card will correspond to 0 to 13 points under the old system, which imposed numerical penalties for each violation. A green B will designate a less sanitary 13 to 27 points, and an orange C will represent 28 points or more. A black-and-white “grade pending” sign will be posted in restaurants that are appealing their scores.

 

It is perhaps a measure of the department’s optimism that Nicholas J. Monello, director of printing operations, said he had fulfilled orders for 9,375 A’s — more than the number of B’s and C’s combined. All have been numbered and embossed to prevent counterfeiting.

 

The department has replaced its paper documents with an electronic system to handle the increased demand that it expects for administrative tribunals, the courts that assess fines and adjudicate disputed inspections, said Daniel Kass, a deputy commissioner. For the first time, online settlements will be permitted, if restaurants acknowledge their violations in exchange for discounted fines.

 

More than 200 hand-held scoring devices have been rebuilt. Every unit “had to be encrypted, which took from two to three hours for each,” said Robert D. Edman, an assistant health commissioner.

 

“That’s so that if they are lost,” he continued, “no one can access their information.”

 

Inspectors have attended four-hour training sessions on letter-grade issues, and health officials have held dozens of educational meetings with restaurant workers.

 

One morning this month, in the basement auditorium of the Queens Public Library in Flushing, Elliott S. Marcus, an associate health commissioner, answered questions from 70 restaurant workers and owners.

 

“You have to post the cards on a front window, door or exterior wall within five feet of the main street entrance, from four to six feet in height,” Mr. Marcus said.

 

Many restaurateurs contend that the new system is confusing, and some have predicted a mass shuttering of businesses rated B and C. Through months of public debate, the department removed many inspection categories from the scoring process, so that restaurants would not receive low grades based on administrative violations like a failure to post informational signs. Some requirements, like those governing food temperature, have been relaxed.

 

Still, Mr. Bookman, counsel for the restaurant association, said, “We don’t think they went nearly far enough in making changes.”

 

At the Queens workshop, Anna Nikopoulos, owner of Pete’s Cafe in Bayside, complained that “they are trying to implement too much here in a recession.”

 

But Sarvjit Singh, owner of the Sohna Punjab restaurant in Bellerose, said he had no worries about maintaining a clean restaurant. “I tell my chef he should be cooking as if he were eating that food,” he said.

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/nyregion/28inspect.html?ref=nyregion

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Wonder if Citi Field and the New Yankee Stadium get a C minus for their food... Heard they had rats there.

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This is exhibit A of NYC's problems. We have a crippling transportation system, big businesses are leaving to put offices in emerging cities and we can barely get half our students to graduate high school. But instead we put focus into how healthy our restaurants are. And I bet you the upscale restaurants that city and state politicians eat at will cut corners to get an A when they could be just as bad as a South Bronx deli that gets a C.

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Dumb idea. This will hurt local businesses that don't score well and it's too subjective. The criteria used for scoring are never consistently applied across the board.

 

Another example of Bloomturd's city of the rich. Instead of doing something for the unemployed, the poor, the working class, or young adults struggling with debt and unemployment, they'd rather sit with one thumb in their mouth and the other up their ass trying to figure out how to screw the holes-in-the-wall with great tasting food out of their clientele all in the name of so called "progress". Your tax dollars, er for some of you youngin's "mommy and daddy's tax dollars", hard at work...

 

I'd love to see how many of those ripoff steakhouses that cost $30+ a person get B's or C's. I'm guessing hardly any.

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Dumb idea. This will hurt local businesses that don't score well and it's too subjective. The criteria used for scoring are never consistently applied across the board.

 

Another example of Bloomturd's city of the rich. Instead of doing something for the unemployed, the poor, the working class, or young adults struggling with debt and unemployment, they'd rather sit with one thumb in their mouth and the other up their ass trying to figure out how to screw the holes-in-the-wall with great tasting food out of their clientele all in the name of so called "progress". Your tax dollars, er for some of you youngin's "mommy and daddy's tax dollars", hard at work...

 

I'd love to see how many of those ripoff steakhouses that cost $30+ a person get B's or C's. I'm guessing hardly any.

 

Bloomberg is a billionaire for crying out loud. The man knows nothing but wealth and because of that a lot of his policies indirectly favor the rich. He's trying to run the city the best way he can. If you have a problem with it than you run for mayor and see if you beat him. Not many people other than Bloomberg want to run this city anyway because it's too much of a challenge. Before you come at Bloomberg look into your local City Council official. He/She could be the corrupt source for the man's ideas.

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eh, I give mcdonald's a F

wendy's an F

white castle an F

fresh N fast Burger an F

burger king a D-

 

 

 

Seriously though....

 

I'm not a restaurant type of person no way, but the grading IMO is meaningless... it doesn't reflect what most think it does... It'll accomplish a boom of people hitting up the A-graded spots (IMO, a lot of which are mafia owned), and the loss of business of anything getting a C and below... buuuttt then again, only the ones that got A's & B's will have it plastered all over the restaurant....

 

Don't be shocked to step foot in an A-graded (cookie-cutter, IMO) restaurant and see your occasional rat, or evidence of one having sprawled about the place... or "unreported" food violations that get swept under the proverbial rug.... Why, b/c these restaurant owners shell out the big bucks to keep the 'topside' of the rug clean... what's under it though, totally different story....

 

 

this ploy to bring in, and cater more to tourists (as opposed to us poor regulars), sickens me....

That's the direction this entire country is heading in anyway....

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eh, I give mcdonald's a F

wendy's an F

white castle an F

fresh N fast Burger an F

burger king a D-

 

It's only out of A, B, or C. No Ds or Fs.

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It's only out of A, B, or C. No Ds or Fs.

 

they're not grading fast food restaurants anyway...

 

that part of the post you quoted of mine... was my way of mocking how ridiculous this whole thing is..

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I hope they go to the Golden Egg Roll around the corner from me, I feel sick now. :tdown: ;)

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Bloomberg is a billionaire for crying out loud. The man knows nothing but wealth and because of that a lot of his policies indirectly favor the rich. He's trying to run the city the best way he can. If you have a problem with it than you run for mayor and see if you beat him. Not many people other than Bloomberg want to run this city anyway because it's too much of a challenge. Before you come at Bloomberg look into your local City Council official. He/She could be the corrupt source for the man's ideas.

 

Oh for Christ's sake, stop defending the rich who have outright stolen from the working and middle class for the last 30 years. Hey maybe you really are Jay Walder???

 

He's not trying to run the city the best he can. He's sitting in Gracie Mansion with his thumb up his ass trying to turn actual New York into HIS version of New York. He's a man with an ego and a plan that his constituents are not on board with. He's also serving an illegal third term, because the voters never approved an exception to term limits, the corrupt city council did.

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Bloomberg is a billionaire for crying out loud. The man knows nothing but wealth and because of that a lot of his policies indirectly favor the rich. He's trying to run the city the best way he can. If you have a problem with it than you run for mayor and see if you beat him. Not many people other than Bloomberg want to run this city anyway because it's too much of a challenge. Before you come at Bloomberg look into your local City Council official. He/She could be the corrupt source for the man's ideas.

 

Bloomberg suck as a mayor!!!did you vote for him??

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