Food safety inspections

There should only be two grades for food safety inspections: “pass” or “fail.”

I read an article last week, posted on The Gothamist, an online blog/newspaper covering New York City, about the Department of Health inspections at Fordham University. (According to a friend of mine, an archivist with the university, the article apparently borrowed extensively from Fordham’s online student newspaper.)

The article provided a long list of violations at three of Fordham’s cafeterias, such as evidence of mice and flies in food prep and storage areas and food not being held at proper temperatures. The article then went on to quote students who allegedly found items such as a plastic nail and a pushpin in their food and ended by reporting similarly disappointing health inspections at New York University and Pace University.

Now, I admit I’ve never paid much attention to Health Department inspections. In my experience, most times you can tell whether a restaurant is worth eating in just by looking around. Seeing an “A” in the window of a neighborhood deli might make me feel better when I walk in to buy a sandwich. But I don’t see grades being displayed in a great many restaurants in Manhattan, where I work, or Staten Island, where I live.

But as I read the article in The Gothamist, one section jumped out at me. Here it is:

“The dining areas cited by the DOH will qualify for a C grade if they score as badly on follow-up inspections. The University’s Student deli scored worst with a whopping 53-point violation (28 points or over qualifies as a C grade).”

Two things bothered me as I read this. First was the idea of a “C” grade. Now, when I was in school, C was considered a passing grade. C students were average; they knew the basic material but lacked the total grasp of the subject matter that students with As and Bs had. In other words, not great but not bad.

The second thing was that the score “attained” by the Student Deli qualified it for a C, even though its total score was nearly twice the minimum requirement for a C. At what point do you actually “fail” an inspection? If you read the explanation “How we score and grade” from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, C is the lowest you can get. Of course, the health department can shut an establishment down if they repeatedly score too high. But how many diners are put at risk while inspectors allow a restaurant to get its act together?

I’m no expert, but to me letter grades should not be used, even if “F” were one of them. There should only be two grades for food safety inspections: “pass” or “fail.” Your restaurant is safe for diners, or it is not. Readers: Do you agree?

Keywords: 
food safety

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
condiments

It’s still true that diners want it their way. But the straightforward, choose-your-toppings Chipotle model is, as the kids say, so basic. The noncommercial diners of 2018 are coming to the table with expectations for meals that fit their personalized needs, from portion size to protein type, calories and more. Operators are responding by pushing beyond the basics with spice-your-own-soup bars, specialty condiment stations and serving size tweaks cooked a la minute.

For some operations, the next phase truly revs up the personal part of personalization, turning diners into chefs...

Managing Your Business
glendale senior dining catering

At the residential facilities Glendale Senior Dining serves, catered birthday and anniversary parties, summer barbecues and other private on- and off-site events give senior residents a convenient alternative to cooking themselves, Director of Business Development Todd Lindsay says.

For these events, Glendale, which serves locations throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, will often tap employees from nearby units to take on catering events; and for weekend or summer engagements, it will reach out to the parent company’s school dining division for a few extra hands.

“We...

Industry News & Opinion
Shedd Aquarium White Sox Shedd The Straw

The Chicago White Sox have partnered with the Shedd Aquarium to support their “Shedd the Straw” initiative: a plan that the groups expect to curb the use of plastic straws by about 215,000 this baseball season.

Beginning on Earth Day, April 22, drinks at all dining locations throughout the Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field will not be automatically served with plastic straws. Guests will be provided with biodegradable straws upon request. Guaranteed Rate Field is said to be the first in Major League Baseball to ban the use of plastic straws.

“At one of Shedd Aquarium’s local...

Industry News & Opinion

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, a philanthropic group that aims to create a more sustainable food system in New England, has announced its creation of the New England Food Vision Prize .

The foundation is inviting foodservice leaders from colleges and universities throughout New England to submit their ideas on how to create a stronger food system that will help the region produce at least half of its own food by 2060.

Qualifying ideas must be collaborative and replicable, among other requirements. The foundation hopes that by reaching out to large food purchasers, like...

FSD Resources