Two months ago, the Department of Health started requiring some food service establishments to display their cleanliness letter grade near the entrances like the photos above that I took in my neighborhood on the Upper Eastside. The letter grades correspond to the sanitary inspection scores. NYC Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley said that the grade in the window will "give the consumer a sense of how clean the kitchen is - and it will give every restaurant operator an incentive to maintain safe, sanitary conditions." Not all restaurants have letter grades at present. It will take more than a year to grade all of the city's existing restaurants.
From the the Department of Health website:
Which establishments are graded?
Some food service establishments that require Health Department permits will receive and post letter grades that correspond to their sanitary inspection scores. These establishments include most restaurants, coffee shops, bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, retail bakeries, and fixed-site food stands. This document uses the term “restaurants” to refer to all these establishments.
Which establishments are not graded?
Letter grades are not being issued to mobile food vending units, temporary food service
establishments, food service establishments operated by primary or secondary schools, hospital- operated cafeterias, correctional facilities, charitable organizations (including soup kitchens or other prepared food distribution programs), or food service establishments operated by not-for-profit membership organizations, which serve food only to their members.
What are the grades, and what do they mean?
Grades reflect how well a restaurant complies with the food safety requirements of the New York City Health Code and the State Sanitary Code. When inspectors examine a restaurant’s sanitary conditions and practices, they assign numerical points for different violations of the Health Code. Different violations carry different numbers of points, depending on their nature and severity. The total number of violation points provides a measure of the restaurant’s general condition. Under the new system, the Health Department will use the scores from certain inspections to generate letter grades that are easier to interpret. Here are the grades:
• Grade A. 0 to 13 points for sanitary violations.
• Grade B. 14 to 27 points for sanitary violations.
• Grade C. 28 or more points for sanitary violations.
• Grade Pending. A restaurant’s B or C grade is not final until the restaurant has had the
opportunity to go before the Health Department’s Administrative Tribunal to contest the
violations cited against it. Until then, the restaurant has the option to post either the
preliminary grade or a card that says “Grade Pending.” Once the grade is final, the restaurant
must immediately post the letter grade card and take down the Grade Pending card.
How should consumers interpret grades of B or C?
In the first year or so of grading, we expect that most restaurants will earn a B grade. Restaurants with B or C grades should improve their overall food safety practices, but the Health Department immediately closes restaurants with conditions that may be hazardous to public health.
Where can I search for restaurants or learn more about a restaurant’s inspection history?
Visit nyc.gov/health/restaurants to see inspection details and to search for restaurants by grade, neighborhood, cuisine and more.