July 22, 2018

NYC Lowers Fines in Restaurant Grading System, Again

For the second time in less than a year, New York City has reduced restaurant health inspection fines, restoring them to levels that existed prior to its restaurant grading system which began in 2010. The program, which requires restaurants to post the letter grade of their health inspection in their front window, has been credited with improving food safety and helping to drive the number of reported cases of Salmonella poisoning in the city to the lowest level in 20 years.

Luxury Restaurant Table setting.While popular with diners, the program has not been a huge hit with restaurant owners who have complained that fines left to the discretion of inspectors have been overly burdensome. The new changes include fixed penalties and the opportunity to request as a consultation,  an ungraded, penalty-free inspection that provides tailored food safety advice.

“The city’s restaurant letter grading system is an important public health tool,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Council Committee on Health. “Allowing New Yorkers to make informed dining decisions is important, but the letter grading should not be an impediment for restaurants being able to do business in the city. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) must ensure consistency and predictably toward food establishments, especially small businesses, when inspections take place. Working with DOHMH, the City Council helped to provide greater fairness and reduce fines for restaurant owners while ensuring the health and well-being of New Yorkers.”

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