October 22, 2019

NYC Gives Its Eatery Grading System High Marks

New York City’s system of giving letter grades to restaurants has boosted business and reduced the incidence of foodborne illness, according to city officials.

During the grading system’s first year, Salmonella cases fell 14 percent to their lowest level in 20 years, while total restaurant sales increased 9.3 percent.

“Confidence in clean kitchens is proving to be good for business, just as clean air has been,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said in a statement. “New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the grading system and based on today’s news it’s not hard to see why. Restaurant grades have been good for public health and good for the economy. New York City is known for its great restaurants and now it will be known for food safety too.”

About 72 percent of New York’s restaurants currently have an “A” grade, up from 65 percent a year ago. That increase reflects fewer public health violations such as inadequate hand washing facilities, food temperature problems and pest control issues.

Restaurant goers love the system and most find it useful. According to a survey conducted by Baruch College at the City University of New York, 91 percent of New Yorkers approve of the grading system and almost as many, 88 percent, consider letter grades when making decision about where to eat out. A new app “ABCEats NYC” lets New Yorkers check a restaurant’s letter grade from any street corner in the city.

“New Yorkers are paying attention to grades in restaurant windows and restaurant operators are clearly paying attention to food safety practices and cleanliness. Restaurants are making the grade and early results show foodborne illness is declining,” Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs said in a statement.

But not everyone think the system make the grade. “If you define success as taxing small business owners and making their lives miserable, then letter grades have been a complete success,” Andrew Rigie, a spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association, said.

The association, which represents 4,000 restaurants in the city hopes the City Council “will take a more enlightened approach toward public health,” he said.


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