By now I’m sure that you have seen those NYC Health Department letter grades in the windows of your neighborhood eating establishments. This past Wednesday, the New York City Council held a hearing on the grading system and a debate has ensued about whether the City should continue the grading system or make changes to it. This consumer feels that the City of New York should 100% continue with the letter grading system but some changes should be made.
As a consumer, I find it very helpful to see these grades in restaurant windows before I sit down and eat there. I have to admit that I have let the letter grading system alter my decision on whether or not to eat in that establishment. When you see that blue letter “A” in the store window you get a reassured feeling that the food is fresh and safe to eat. I would like to see this letter grading system applied to food trucks and food carts but that’s another topic for another day.
I agree with New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn that changes need to be made to the current letter grading system. I have also heard from a lot of store owners who say that the fines for violations are too harsh and the inspector’s attitudes could be better when they inspect an establishment. There has also been some talk that the criteria for each of the different letter grades are inconsistent. A very interesting fact was 1,300 people responded to the NYC Council survey on the grading system. 67% of restaurant owners who responded got an “A” rating and 59.1% of them rated the system poor. Overall , about 66% of survey respondents rated the system poor.
It was encouraging to hear from NYC Health Department Commissioner Farley when he said that reported cases of salmonella have dropped 14% in the first year of the grading system. However this fact isnt reason enough to keep the current system as is. We must always remember that local businesses are the backbone of our Cities economy and without them we would face financial disaster. If a majority of restaurant owners say the system is poor, I believe the City must reevaluate the current system and see if positive changes can be made. I am sure that this is an issue that is not going to go away. We as consumers must keep a close eye on this debate moving forward.