FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 027-15
Monday, June 29, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Levi Fishman (347) 396-4177
Restaurants are performing better on inspection and are cleaner than ever;
Nearly 60% percent of restaurants now earn an A on their initial inspection
Letter grading has vastly diminished the public health risks associated with dining out; there has been a 23 percent drop in violations from the peak in 2012
91 percent of New Yorkers approve of restaurant grading, 88 percent use grades in making their dining decisions and 76 percent feel more confident eating in an A-grade restaurant
June 29, 2015 – In July 2010, the Health Department began requiring restaurants in all five boroughs to post letter grades summarizing their sanitary inspection scores. Five years later, restaurants are performing better on inspection and are cleaner than they have ever been. The program has had a positive impact on restaurant hygiene, food-safety practices, and public awareness. Today, 95 percent of the City’s 24,000 restaurants now post an A grade, the number of critical violations has decreased, and more restaurant supervisors have completed the Health Department’s food protection course.
“Over the last five years, restaurant letter grading has successfully motivated restaurants to practice better food safety,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett . “You see this as you walk down any street in the City. The large number of A grades that are proudly displayed means that restaurants are attaining excellent compliance with food safety regulations, which has reduced the likelihood of foodborne illness and made dining out safer for all New Yorkers.
“The letter grading program has evolved for the better over the last five years,” said Justin Dambinskas, whose family owns Ice House CafÃ© in the Bronx . “One of the most important things about letter grading is that it has created a level playing field for restaurants. There is now more consistency so you know what to expect when you’re inspected, and there’s a better system to address any questions you have following an inspection. An A is looked upon favorably â€“ if a customer doesn’t see an A, they’ll walk away. If you do your due diligence and earn that A, it gives people confidence in your restaurant.”
“I have been supportive of the restaurant letter grading program from the start in 2010,” said Chef Wylie Dufresne, owner of New York City restaurant Alder and now closed wd~50 . “It’s important that our customers understand our commitment to food safety and best practices, and that’s why we display our A grade in the window at Alder. Letter grades help to simplify that for diners.”
“New York’s restaurant grading program is a phenomenal success. Most importantly, it has prevented illnesses caused by Salmonella , but it has also saved restaurants money. Clearly, every city and state in the country should implement such a program,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest .
“Restaurants have risen to the challenge posed by the grading system and are producing safer meals, and I am particularly pleased that there has been a 24 percent drop in Salmonella reports since 2010,” said Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University . “Congratulations to the program on its fifth anniversary. Restaurant grading is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: improving food safety practices in New York restaurants and making them safer for all of their customers.”
Highlights of the last five years include: