On Tuesday, October 5, 2016, the Board voted to adopt the Implementation Plan for Restaurant Grading Recommendations brought forth by the Department of Public Health (DPH). The recommendations fall into four areas: availability of public information, methods of scoring and grading, optimization of inspections through greater use of data, and changes in policy and procedures. The ten recommendations adopted are:

  • All restaurant closures, including those resulting from routine inspections or public complaint, should be publicly posted online.
  • DPH and the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health will establish the appropriate criteria for public disclosure of foodborne illnesses associated with a particular restaurant.
  • Based on public feedback and input, DPH will implement a new grade card in the upcoming fiscal year. The card includes the inspection date and the inspector’s initials, and in the near future, a QR code that will enable the public to access the retail food facility’s latest inspection score and recent inspection history.
  • DPH will keep the current A, B, C grading system, but will work to improve the scoring method on which the grades are based.
  • Additional points will be deducted in inspection reports to prevent the issuing of “A” grades to food facilities ordered closed or found to have two major violations.
  • DPH will conduct a trend analyses to target restaurants associated with alleged foodborne illness and to develop informational material on food handling practices and behaviors.
  • DPH will revise policy and procedure to strengthen the efficacy of permit revocations so that businesses must address chronic unsafe practices before operating.
  • DPH will assess the existing restaurant closure policy.
  • DPH will change its internal policy to allow a graded inspection to occur at any time under specified conditions.
  • The owner initiated inspection process will be reviewed to prevent restaurant operators who have chronic unsafe food practices from using the process to improve their grade.

The complete implementation of these recommendations is expected to be completed by December 2016.

“So many of our County’s restaurant-goers actively use the A, B, or C in the front window to make an informed decision,” said Supervisor Kuehl. “While food facility grades are not the definitive solution to preventing foodborne illness and outbreak, they are integral to shaping food safety practices and behaviors. The implementation of these recommendations will be an important step toward building healthier communities. “