Picture of Forks, courtesy of Mike (Inbet_1979), Flickr CC, click image to see original

"Forks", courtesy of Mike (Inbet_1979), Flickr CC

In health literacy circles, much has been made of New York City’s requirement to post nutrition information, but an effort with a similar goal has garnered less notice — the New York City requirement that restaurants clearly post their Health Inspection grade.

Starting in July 2010, New York City is requiring restaurants to post letter grades that correspond to scores that it receives from its sanitary inspection. An inspection score of 0-13 is an A, 14-27 points is a B, and 28 or more points is a C. Grade cards must be posted where they can easily be seen by people passing by.

The goal for each of these efforts is the same — to encourage restaurant patrons make healthy food choices —  but not everyone is clear on what the letter grade means.  If you would like a bit more insight into the grade system, the NYC Health department Restaurant inspections site can help you to  (1) look at an overview of how the points are assigned, (2) read a report on how the first six months of this program has gone, and (3) find a detailed “report card” of a restaurant, searching  by name, cuisine-type, borough and/or zipcode.

This librarian found it interesting to look at the history of inspections (not just from an archival viewpoint, but to see that some point-values at some venues vacillate pretty drastically from visit-to-visit).  One might also note that a pending grade may  mean not-yet-inspected, not inspected after re-opening, or that the restaurant is exercising the option to challenge their grade.  Each  report-card makes any  “Criticial” violations  easy to see, they are at the top of a report card, in red type — yet from a cursory review of a few restaurants, I notice that it is possible to get an A even with “critical” violations, and get a B, with only “non-critical” violations.  So search for yourself, if you can stomach it!

(N.B.: If you are looking for a quick snack, or a place to take your folks for graduation, I was happy to note that the restaurants in the Queens Campus area do pretty well. but the zipcode on Union Turnpike isn’t the STJ campus zip, it is 11366.)