East Bay News

Alameda Co. adopting color-coded restaurant grading system

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A new tool to help diners decide where to eat is coming to Alameda County. Green, yellow and red placards will replace the number grading system used in the past and allow diners to see inspection results at a glance.

Health inspectors are always checking the places where food is stored and served to the public, but their results aren't always posted in places where we can see them. On Sunday, all that will change.

Chris Vance and his business partners believe that posting their food safety results is good business.

"I want to know that the place I'm going into is clean," he said. "People don't abide by the standards that most restaurants should and if you're providing food to the public you need to have a good clean work area and providing good clean food."

The new food grading system developed by the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health is meant to ensure just that. It will require the owners of places serving food to prominently post the results of their inspections in the windows of the business in plain public view.

"I think it's great that there's some kind of placard or sign that allows people to know that this is an approved and safe food establishment," Elena Durante, of G.B. Ratto's Market & Deli, said.

In the new color-coded grading system a green placard means there is a history of good inspections, yellow means two or more major food safety violations and red indicates a place has been closed because of violations like unsafe food storage and unsanitary conditions.

Diners can also look it up on the environmental Alameda County Department of Environmental Health website, which will include the food safety status of restaurants with color-coded dots on a map.

Durante knows that a failed inspection could damage their reputation and the relationship her deli has with customers, a relationship that her grandfather started when he opened the store in 1897.

"It's really good to have these standards, it's absolutely necessary," she said.

The new law goes into effect on July 1 for every city in Alameda County except Berkeley, which has opted out of the new system.

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