Diners May See Health Inspection Grades in Public
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY - Local restaurants may have to display a letter-grade at entrances showing results of their latest health department inspection.
The Kentucky Board of Health is asking for public opinion on the matter, and will discuss the regulation at a meeting in May. If passed, the requirement will go into effect in August 2013 and would apply to food service businesses in the district’s five counties: Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman, Fulton and McCracken.
The Purchase District Health Department issued a press release saying they are considering this requirement, beginning later this year. It doesn't change the way the Health Department does its job, but it is intended to offer the public a better way to understand inspection results, according to Kent Koster, Public Health Director.
Restaurants get a surprise inspection twice a year, and get a numeric score based on 38 categories related to food safety practices. These include food temperature, personal hygiene, controlling insects and rodents, and use and storage of toxic items or wholesale unadulterated food.
The new regulation would require an 8" x 11" placard be placed at each entrance, and it must be plainly visible. A letter grade of A, B, or C would be displayed, under the following guidelines:
A grade - corresponds to a score of 85-100%, with no critical violations. This would be displayed until the next regular inspection.
B grade - indicates the business has failed a follow-up inspection, has failed two consecutive inspections, or has been briefly closed after a regular inspection showed a risk to public health. This grade would be displayed until the next regular inspection.
C grade - given to establishments that score 84% or below on an inspection, and indicates that minimum Food Code requirements have not been met. This would be displayed for a minimum period of time determined by the inspector, but not more than 10 days. A follow-up inspection's score card would then be displayed.
Any facility that scores below 60% is closed, and must display a "B" placard after a follow-up inspection enables it to re-open. Follow-up inspections take place within 10 days. If a facility is able to get above 84% on a follow-up inspection, and there are no critical violations, the business can display an "A" placard until the next regular inspection.
Critical violations include not washing hands when handling raw food, not wearing gloves, or eating while preparing food.
Koster says the department’s intent is not to burden restaurants with more stringent regulations. “The vast majority of the district’s 455 establishments already do a great job” he said. “Immediate closure and terrible low inspection scores only happen occasionally. But the public that is eating in those establishments has the right to know about those conditions” he said.