With recent recalls and food-borne illnesses the consumer base is becoming increasingly careful regarding where and what they eat. As a result, many health departments are requiring restaurants to post their most recent inspection (certificate pictured to the left) on the front door. This information is available as a matter of public record and, increasingly, compiled and made available online. This means your grade may be a determining factor in whether or not a consumer will try your establishment.
Receiving a high grade is not only important as a matter of public safety, but also to running a successful business. Lower grades can drive customers away which results in less patronage which results in less profit for the business. If too many violations are found, the inspector can deem a restaurant a public health hazard and has the authority to order it be closed.
Inspectors will come with a checklist of items to inspect. These items are all assigned a point value related to the potential for unclean surfaces and practices. They are sorted into two main categories these categories are critical and non-critical. Critical, as the name implies, poses greater risk for consumers and are weighed more heavily in terms of points. Points are tallied at the end of the inspection and a scale is referenced to assign the restaurant a grade.
There are three main methods of grading a restaurant:
Letter grade (ABCDF) - This grading scale is similar to the one used in grade schools today. Points (as discussed above) are subtracted from the total possible, and a percentage is given. The resulting percentage falls onto a scale from A-C and sometimes also D and F. Grades A and B signify few or no violations while grades of C, D or F represent restaurants that have enough violations to be considered serious. These restaurants are often give citations, fined, or sometimes shut down.
Risk Index - This type of system is similar to the ABC but instead uses an arbitrary scale to rate the restaurant. Violation points are tallied and the restaurant will fall into categories ranging from Inadequate to Excellent.
Colored Tags - Green, yellow, red and white tags are used to show most recent inspection results. Green tags indicate little to no violations. Yellow shows some critical violations. Red shows that the restaurant suffers from numerous serious violations this tag usually means the restaurant is receiving fines or is soon to be shut down. White tags indicate probation after being closed due to previous violations.