Health Department Ratings and what it means to you…

I spent most of my adult life working in the food industry on the west coast. This meant strict adherence to city, county and state codes and constant health inspections. We were in LA County where the restaurants are actually letter rated and that letter is posted for public viewing. There was also no smoking in any facility nor any pets allowed.

SO, imagine my surprise when we came here to work on this investment house and found that not only are there no letter grades, facilities are full of smoking, people walk in with their personal pets and let them run around as well as enough other numerous offenses that would have their doors permanently closed in most other cities and states.

The county I’m currently in (thank goodness only temporarily) is said to ‘do their own thing’ and while that seems to be accepted as the norm, it is still wrong, only no one wants to deal with it so it continues. We eat at home 99% of the time because of this.

This post came to be because hubby wants to take me out for my birthday next week and I don’t want to go. LOL you read that right I’m turning down a dinner out. Hubby wouldn’t hear of it, so we compromised on a restaurant in the next state, an hour away.

Many other states are following suit with the California program and it is actually being found that air borne illness and hospitalization are on the decrease since the grading system was instituted and that the number of ‘A’ graded restaurants is on the increase. In Los Angeles you can visit this site to see the rating for any particular restaurant. An ‘A’ or ‘B’ is an acceptable grade in LA County. A ‘C’ gives you a bit of time to get your grade up before the next inspection. A ‘D’ or ‘F’ will close your business. I, for one have no problems with the health inspectors checking for proper temperatures, lack of infestation, proper storage methods, etc… Environmental health affects us all at a social level.

The following is a direct quote from the Retail Food Inspection Guide.

The goal of food inspections is to reduce those risk factors which contribute to foodborne illness. Environmental Health is required to use a grading system to indicate how well food service operators are fulfilling their responsibility in the prevention of foodborne illnesses. All facilities receive grades which are posted on the website. However, only those facilities located in cities that have adopted Ordinance #97-0071 or located within the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County are required to post the Grade / Score Card at the facility. The grade or score that a food facility receives reflects the conditions observed at the time of the inspection. Each food facility inspection begins with 100 points. As the EHS conducts an inspection, the appropriate categories in Section I – VI on the FOIR will be marked. The categories in Sections I and II and the subcategories in Section III have been assigned a specific point value based on the associated publichealth risk of the violation. This point value is deducted from the 100 points. To determine a facility’s grade; the EHS must first add all of the point deductions from the marked violation categories in Section I – II and subcategories in Section III. That total is then subtracted from the 100 points.

A grade card (A, B, and C) or a score card will be issued at the end of the inspection based on the remaining points:

  • 90 to 100 points A Generally superior in food handling practices and overall food facility maintenance.
  • 80 to 89 points B Generally good in food handling practices and overall food facility maintenance.
  • 70 to 79 points C Generally acceptable in food handling practices and overall general food facility maintenance.
  • 0 to 69 points Score Card Poor food handling practices and overall general food facility maintenance.

There are situations as determined by the EHS, where violations pose imminent health hazards that warrant immediate closure of the food facility, (e.g., sewage, no hot water, vermin, etc.). In those situations, the Public Health Permit will be suspended and a Notice of Closure * will be posted. This closure sign must remain posted until the facility permit is reinstated. This action does not affect the grade or score of the facility but is related to the conditions that warranted the closure.

Food Safety is not a matter of choice when you are serving the public or at least it shouldn’t be. Having a compromised immunity from Systemic Lupus and having spent so many years working in the industry attending classes and seminars I am very much aware and in tune to violations and just plain lack of responsibility. Both of which are running rampant here in this county in the north woods.

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I wouldn’t want to eat anywhere that received less than an A! I don’t know we letter-grade our facilities, but I do know there is a health code. I’m going to have to look into that. I am a former smoker, and I hate to eat in restaurants where smoking is allowed. In the suburbs of Houston, you get into little city governments, you know, where you drive a mile and you’re in another “city?” I have four cities in my general vicinity. One of them hasn’t outlawed smoking in restaurants yet. And pets in a restaurant? I don’t even want to go there! I shudder to think of that.


I couldn’t agree with you more Tamy! We very rarely go to restaurants and when we do we’re almost always disappointed – there’s nothing we can’t make at home and it’s always so much better, not to mention cheaper! Of course what’s behind those kitchen doors always scares the heck out of me!