Inspection results at the door, but in what form?

This morning, while drinking morning tea and perusing my Google Alerts, I came across a few stories on restaurant inspection disclosure systems. Another district in Connecticut has adopted symbols to aid consumer interpretation of inspection scores, while a city in New Mexico proposes changing from a pass-fail system to letter grades.

Stamford, CT will be the third district in the state to use symbols to disclose restaurant inspection results to the public, reports the Stamford Advocate Online. While Farmington Valley and Norwalk districts use waiter and lighthouse symbols respectively, Stamford will use smiling chef faces.

Three beaming hats is excellent and translates into a score from 90 to 100 with no four-point (the most serious) hygiene or storage violations. Two hats is acceptable and either mean a score of 80 to 96 with up to one four-point violation and less than four risk factors. One hat indicates poor levels of compliance with a score below 80 or more than two four-point violations or more than four risk factor violations…The idea has been in the works for six years, health department director Dr. Johnnie Lee said.

Results for Stamford are also available online, here.

Meanwhile, restaurants in Albuquerque, NM may be changing from a pass-fail disclosure at the door system to an A, B, C system, reports

Go to any other large city and you’ll see lots of restaurants with big “A”s or “B”s in their windows. Sometimes you’ll see a “C”. In fact, many chowhounds will insist that an ethnic restaurant graded “A” can’t really be all that good or authentic – it’s the B and C ones worth seeking out. To bring the Duke City in line with all of these other progressive urban areas, it has been proposed that we, too, use the ABC method. And let the battle begin!

It’s the New Mexico Restaurant Association vs. City of Albuquerque and city councillor Trudy Jones! Each has their own talking points, arguments, and rebuttals. Here they are in a nutshell:

City of Albuquerque: “The old rules are outdated and behind the times and we must change them.”

NMRA: “The new rules embrace new technology but badge restaurants for six months based on inspection results that were likely fixed on the spot.”

Why doesn’t someone ask consumers, operators and inspectors which disclosure method they like?