After NYC rat flap, state lawmaker eyes public posting of letter grades

After NYC rat flap, state lawmaker eyes public posting of letter grades

NEW YORK —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

State Senate minority leader Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx/Westchester, introduced a bill directing health inspectors across New York to award a letter grade of “A” through “F” to restaurants based on the results of their most recent sanitary inspections. The grade would have to be posted prominently in a conspicuous place near the restaurant’s entrance. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

“People need to be aware of how clean or dirty their restaurants are,” Klein told Nation’s Restaurant News. “I believe this will prompt restaurateurs to strive harder for cleanliness.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

A companion bill also was introduced in the New York Assembly. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Speaking in New York several weeks after a video showing rats scurrying around a KFC [3]/Taco Bell [4] outlet drew national attention, Klein said it was “appalling that the [city’s] Department of Health does not have any adequate system in place to alert consumers to a potential health hazard.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Opponents said such a system would not only hurt restaurateurs but also would confuse customers. Klein, however, said his intention was not to criticize restaurants. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

“I know how difficult it is to run a restaurant,” he said. “But plenty of restaurateurs never fail their inspection, and this would highlight the ones who are doing a good job.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

A health-related restaurant exposé series by the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles a decade ago resulted in a similar reaction, prompting an embarrassed Los Angeles County health department to adopt letter grades of A, B or C based on inspections. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Jordan Traverso, director of communications for the California Restaurant Association [5], said the letter grades have proved to be popular with the public, although the system itself has endured growing pains. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Initially, some minor violations that had nothing to do with food safety—like a cracked floor tile in the dining room—could reduce a restaurant’s grade to a “B,” Traverso said. Rules allowed restaurants to request a reinspection within 72 hours of an initial inspection to demonstrate that they had corrected infractions and elevate their grade. But with too few inspectors in Los Angeles, that wasn’t always possible, Traverso said. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

“L.A. County is getting better, though,” she said. “The reinspection rate has increased.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

In California, San Diego also has a similar letter-grading system, while Sacramento utilizes a color-coding system—green, yellow and red, with red requiring a closure to correct problems. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

The health department of Barnstable, Mass., recently enacted a letter-grading system that the Massachusetts Restaurant Association [6] criticized. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

“Letter grading is so subjective,” said Peter Christie, the MRA’s president and chief executive. “If a restaurant passes with a ‘C’ what does that mean?” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Klein’s proposal has met with opposition from within the foodservice industry and the New York health department itself. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

“We are reviewing the Klein report in detail,” said Sara Markt, deputy press secretary for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “In general, however, a grading system for restaurants does not accurately depict the cleanliness of a restaurant over time. Our system lets New Yorkers see the actual list of violations and decide whether they want to eat at a particular restaurant. And our scoring system weighs more heavily those violations that are most likely to make a customer sick.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

New York City inspection results also are posted online. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the New York City chapter of the state restaurant association, predicted that diners would misunderstand such a system. What’s more, “millions of tourists would be totally confused,” he said. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Rick Sampson, president of the New York State Restaurant Association [7], said the measure was “too harsh.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

“It’s absolutely not necessary, he said, “and people will start shopping the letters.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Klein insists that grades would “allow more meaningful comparisons across jurisdictions.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

A uniform grading system “will show there are more good restaurants than bad restaurants,” he said, adding that local health departments would assign grades based on existing point systems. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Meanwhile, the New York City health department continues to pursue a stricter-than-usual policy folling the rat scandal, Hunt said. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

The city is “hitting places that have passed inspections for years,” he said. “Now they’ll take points away because a hand sink is six feet too far from where it should be. They’re being overzealous.” —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.

Since the rat video was first broadcast in February, city inspectors have given at least 235 restaurants failing grades. —Repercussions from the recent rat rampage at a KFC/Taco Bell outlet here were being felt well beyond the city limits after a high-ranking lawmaker proposed that New York state adopt a uniform letter-grading system he says would simplify health inspection scores for customers.