Monday, January 4, 2010
The Allegheny County Health Department is considering changes to its food safety inspection program that it feels will keep the public better informed and give restaurants more incentive to clean up their operations. Currently when the county inspects a restaurant the establishment is given either a passing or failing grade. Under the new proposal a letter or numeric grade would be assigned after each inspection. Health Department Spokesperson Guillermo Cole says issuing grades is a growing trend across the country and he says it has worked in Los Angeles where it has been in place for more than 10 years. He says restaurants that earned “C’s” and “B’s” had an incentive to raise that grade to “B’s” and “A’s.” Cole says there are far fewer “C” and even “B” grades now than when the program first began. L.A. Posts the grades on an establishment’s door. Cole says those types of details are still being finalized in Allegheny County but at a minimum they would be posted on line. Cole says it will be at least 6 months before any changes are implemented. The county is still gathering information from other health departments and will consult with its food advisory board before taking a final proposal to health board for a vote. The county already posts food preparation violations on its web page and consumer alerts can be placed on an establishment’s door if there is an ongoing issue.