I still prefer name and shame: Name and Fame for Dubai restaurants

Customers will soon be able to view a food safety grade on the entrance of Dubai food outlets as part of an upcoming “Name and Fame” scheme, an official said on Sunday.

scarlet.letterThe scheme will reveal whether the outlet has passed, failed or obtained a conditional pass in official food safety inspections.

It will also assign what will probably be a letter grade indicating the level of compliance, with “A” being the highest and “E” the lowest.

The scheme was announced during the ninth Dubai International Food Safety Conference, which lasts until Tuesday.

“We want to let consumers know who’s doing well. It’ll invite people to make food safety their priority,” Sultan Al Tahir, head of inspections at Dubai Municipality’s food control department, said.

“The grade will be posted outside the place. We’ll implement this in the future.”

Al Tahir said more than 200 out of 13,000 food establishments in Dubai are of A-grade standing. Those falling in the E category are 430.

It is understood the grades will be revised if necessary after scheduled and spot food safety inspection results.

Also planned for consumers is a smart barcode system which will let smartphone users scan the product information on the packaging of all food products in the UAE, said Khalid Mohammad Sharif, the municipality department’s executive director.

qr.code.rest.inspection.gradeUsing an app in their smart device, customers will be able to scan a code that will reveal a catalogue of information, such as nutrition facts, expiry date, ingredients, and country of origin.

The code will also reveal if the product has ever been flagged by authorities.

“Consumers will know if it has had any previous history. It means more control and transparency, which is good for everybody. All of that will be on your smartphone,” Sharif added.

The system will also reveal if the product is registered with federal authorities, which will become mandatory some time in 2015, he said.

The Dubai Municipality plans to shut down food outlets that do not raise their food safety standards to the highest level before the emirate hosts the World Expo in 2020, a senior official revealed on Sunday.

“We want all food outlets in Dubai to be in ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories. We don’t want any restaurant or hotel below those grades by 2020,” Khalid Mohammed Sherif Al Awadhi said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the 9th Dubai International Food Safety Conference (DIFSC) on Sunday, Al Awadhi said it is high time that eateries raised their standards to make Dubai the best place to dine in.

Still prefer scores on doors: UK diners should ‘look before they book’

Festive diners are advised to ‘look before they book’ when planning a Christmas meal out in Bucks.

larry.david.rest.inspecThe Food Standards Agency said people should check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating, which is determined by local authority food safety officers.

Restaurants are marked from nought to a high of five.

Ninety-three per cent of food businesses in Bucks are rated three or better.

South Bucks District Council’s cabinet member for health and housing, Councillor Jennifer Woolveridge, said: “It’s easy to check hygiene ratings online and choose a restaurant for Christmas parties that takes food hygiene seriously. A good food hygiene rating is something to be proud of.

Visit www.food.gov.uk/ratings to check
a rating or look for the green and black sticker on the restaurant. If you cannot see one, just ask.

 

More demand for restaurant inspection info

From San Jose to South Australia, locals are adopting restaurant inspection disclosure or grading programs to inform diners of recent ratings.

scores_doors_featureBeginning in Jan. 2016, San Jose restaurants will adopt the Toronto-like green-yellow-red display system.

In the state of South Australia (that’s where Adelaide is) 10 local Councils have signed up to a voluntary Scores on Doors Pilot Program that will test a new Food Safety Rating scheme for cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Director of Food Safety and Nutrition at SA Health, Fay Jenkins said food safety rating schemes were used all over the world to help consumers make informed choices about where they decided to buy their food.

“Customers have a right to know that the food they buy has been stored in a clean, safe environment and prepared by people with the appropriate food handling skills,” Dr Jenkins said.

“South Australian businesses can start displaying a star rating, calculated using the results of their routine food safety inspection undertaken by local Councils throughout the pilot program,” she said.

“Encouraging businesses to display their star rating aims to improve standards in the food service industry and will also help to improve public health by reducing the risk of food poisoning.”

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009.

The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information.

Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

Abstract

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks larry.the_.cable_.guy_.health.inspector-213x300and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.

‘More info better for consumers’ NC County restaurant inspection ratings to appear on Yelp pages

Restaurant inspections have long revealed the dirtier side of food locales, including the restaurants frequented by residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

In an effort to make inspection ratings more accessible, Orange County announced Sept. 16 that it would begin posting its health inspection ratings to Yelp. A restaurant’s most recent letter grade now appears in the right-hand column of its Yelp page.

seinfeld.soupnaziVictoria Hudson, an environmental health specialist for the Orange County Health Department, conducts inspections in Carrboro and parts of Chapel Hill and UNC. She said more access to information is beneficial to consumers.

“People should be able to use these scores to assign risk,” Hudson said. “The letter ‘A’ does not necessarily give you the full picture as much as the list of comments does.”

Clicking on the inspection score on Yelp reveals more information on previous inspections, including the dates and the number of health code violations found.

In May, for example, an inspection found pink and black mold in the ice machine at R&R Grill, though mold in ice machines was not an uncommon violation at restaurants in 2013 findings. The restaurant lost 1.5 points — a half deduction — and received a 98.5 total score.

Ross Moll, the owner of R&R Grill, said employees cleaned the machine after it was discovered. The machine is cleaned weekly and inspected to prevent the problem.

“I think they do a good job coming down on people who are not up to snuff on things, and they definitely work with people to get things fixed,” Moll said about the Health Department.

Tony Sustaita, owner of Bandido’s, said the inspections help reinforce safe practices.

“Obviously the policy is to be clean all the time, but people mess up once in a while,” he said. “Any issue that is brought up in an inspection is addressed immediately.”

Both Moll and Sustaitia said displaying scores in restaurants and on Yelp helps consumers make decisions.

“I think the only ones who would be concerned would be the ones with negative scores,” Sustaita said. “We’ve had pretty good 

Hawaiian restaurant cited for removing food safety placard

The state Department of Health has fined the owners of Iyo Udon at Ala Moana Center $11,000 for intentionally removing a “conditional pass” placard and for food safety violations during a health inspection.

hawaii-restaurant-placardyellow*304xx1035-1553-83-0On Aug. 22, the department conducted a health inspection of the restaurant, which is owned by Iyo Seimen USA, Inc., and issued a yellow placard. A yellow placard is issued if there are two or more major violations observed during an inspection.

“Placard removal is a serious violation with substantial consequences because this act intentionally places profit above health and safety and compromises the public’s trust and their right to know when violations occur during an inspection,” said Peter Oshiro, the department’s Sanitation, Food & Drug and Vector Control Branch Manager. “Since the start of the new placarding program, we’ve seen excellent compliance with the food industry; this is our first incident involving tampering with a placard.”

Restaurant inspection disclosure returns to Anchorage

After a five-year hiatus, Anchorage’s health department is planning to bring back a scoring system for inspections in restaurants and other food-service facilities.

mystery.alaskaThe Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services this week unveiled a 54-item scorecard along with a method for assessing points. Over the next month, the department will be gathering public comment on the proposed system; it aims to begin posting scores along with inspection reports online in January.

Regular municipal health inspections date back to at least the mid-1980s, and those results are available online, Tony Barrett, environmental health program manager, said in an interview.

Until five years ago, those inspections included a scoring system. But the department discontinued scoring after the 2009 revision of the municipality’s food code because the new code contained a higher number of possible violations, Barrett said. The number of items on the inspection sheet jumped from 44 to 54, adding violations related to sick restaurant workers and bare-hand contact with food.

doug.skatingAnchorage health officials then made the decision to hold off on the scoring portion of inspections until they were more accustomed to the new code requirements, Barrett said. In the meantime, inspectors have used a matrix, and their own judgment, to decide how many critical violations warrant a closure, he said.

As well as providing a clear measure for facilities and inspectors, Barrett said, the scoring system is intended to help the public understand online inspection reports.

Illinois website now details restaurant inspections

Decades after other regions figured out how to do it and five years of trying to get restaurant inspection reports on their website, Illinois public health officials finally succeeded this month.

The site — c-uphd.org/foodinspections.html — now delivers a wealth of information on the inspections, including the inspection history and scores for more than 1,000 food establishments.

larry.david.rest.inspecThe health department opened the site earlier this month but did not announce it until Thursday.

“They can see more information because we summarized it for them,” said Jim Roberts, director of environmental health for the district. “I think we’re telling a public health story. You know if we just put up an inspection report or a score, which may vary from one jurisdiction to another, it is information, but it is very limited. This, I think, can help you make a decision because you have more information.”

The reports can be found on the district’s environmental health section, under “Programs and Services.” A user can search for an establishment under a variety of categories, including its name, adjusted score range and risk categories.

Pittsburgh OKs A-B-C restaurant grading system

After years of local angst and against the opposition of the local restaurant industry, the board of the Allegheny County Health Department voted to approve a new grading system for assessing the food safety standards of local food establishments.

rest.inspec.grade.louisvilleThe board approved the measure by a 6-1 vote, with Tony Ferraro opposed.

The new system would place an A, B or C grade on the doors of restaurants by county inspectors. It would replace the current system, where the county places stickers of whether a restaurant is approved and provides more details on the county health department’s website.

The measure still will need approval by Allegheny County Council as well as County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who has long supported the change.

The target date to implement the new program is Jan. 19.

Seattle restaurants may finally get restaurant grading system

It’s deeply weird or deeply hypocritical that Seattle, self-proclaimed home to many things food, doesn’t have a decent restaurant inspection disclosure system.

restaurant.food.crap.09We’ve tried to make as much information available as possible,” says Becky Elias, Manager of Food Protection for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “As a consumer, you could look up an individual restaurant and see the entirety of all of their inspections, and see how they’ve done. We did that because we wanted it to be as transparent as possible.”

But two-time E. coli victim Sarah Schacht says the system is antiquated and overly complicated, making it difficult to quickly determine how a restaurant is actually doing.

She launched a petition on Change.org earlier this year calling for the county to mandate publicly posted restaurant inspection scores. She says other cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York have seen significant reductions in food-related illnesses since restaurants began posting A, B, C, or F grades in their front window.

“We saw, in Toronto, a 30 percent reduction of total foodborne illnesses when they started a public scoring system for restaurants,” Schaht says.

“We have heard that message loud and clear that that’s something people are wanting,” Elias responds. “So we’re now actively engaging in the process.”

The health department has formed several committees made up of restaurants, health officials and others to come up with new policies for presenting food inspection results.

Elias says they’ll look at findings from other cities, and while they might not adopt a letter grade, they are committed to some public display that quickly informs customers how a restaurant fared.

restaurant-letter-grade“I think that we’re really excited about working towards something that meets the need of improving food safety, making something that is easier for people to understand, and also designing something that is equitable for the incredibly diverse array of food businesses that we have here in King County,” says Elias.

I’m glad you’re excited, with your public service salary, but you haven’t done anything. Toronto did it 12 years ago.

Here’s some researxh to get you more excited.

Can I have your salary and benefits?

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009.

The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information.

Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

Abstract

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.

Florida restaurants to receive letter to follow inspection sign rule

Palm Beach County is sending out reminders to restaurants about a rule that most have not been following.

A 2006 ordinance required restaurants to post a sign on the door or window letting customers know that they can request to see the restaurant’s latest inspection report.

But a recent Dirty Dining investigation found that few restaurants had the signs posted. Some restaurant owners and managers told us they weren’t aware of the rule.

The county ordinance was passed as a way to make sure customers could know what inspectors are finding in the kitchens of restaurants. 

The inspection records detail if the restaurant has a rat or roach problem. It also shows if a restaurant has gotten in trouble for not serving food at the correct temperature and other safety and sanitation issues.

Palm Beach County is sending out nearly 4,000 letters this week. Customers should soon start seeing the signs in the windows.