Cities Ranked by Dirty Restaurants
Consumer Group's 'Dirty Dining' Report: Unhealthy Towns or Tough Inspectors?
WebMD News Archive
"The presence of rodents and insects is certainly disgusting and
certainly shows a restaurant is not focusing on food safety," she says.
"But the things most dangerous to consumers are the things we would never
see. Unless we had the tools and the training, even if we went into the kitchen
we would not be able to see the things that would really harm us."
That is why the CSPI urges every city and state to adopt a restaurant
grading program. As is done in Los Angeles County, restaurants would be
required to post -- in their front window -- a letter grade from inspectors
showing whether they got an A, B, or C. Lower grades would result in the
restaurant being closed.
"The result in L.A. County has been a 20% reduction in food-borne
illness," Klein says. "Right now, a poor inspection is a hidden shame
for a restaurateur. With public grading, food safety comes out of the shadows
and becomes a priority for the restaurant, the same way a four-star rating from
the Zagat Guide would be."
And consumers pay attention. Klein says that in Los Angeles, only 3% of
consumers say they'd eat at a C-grade restaurant. And restaurants that got a C
saw revenues dip by 1%, while those that got an A saw their income rise by
Mary Adolf, president of the solutions, products, and services group of the
National Restaurant Association, warns that health inspections provide only a
snapshot of what's going on in a restaurant at a specific point in time.
"Ninety-nine percent of critical violations are corrected before the
inspector leaves the restaurant," Adolf tells WebMD. "That is
Adolf says the National Restaurant Association supports a method of
restaurant health-inspection reporting that is standardized across the U.S.
"Whether it is a letter grade or some other method, it needs to be
standardized so it can be truly meaningful, and inspectors need to be trained
against those standards," she says. "And these standards should be
based on the latest FDA Food Code."