San Francisco: Consumers want food safety information in reviews and at the door

“If you’re going to San Francisco…” don’t expect to find restaurant inspection results easily. SF Gate Online acknowledges a reader’s frustration with restaurant reviews published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The reader writes about a recent food critic review,

I am concerned about food safety. Often before I go to a restaurant I check its health department inspection results. The recent health department inspection reports for this [reviewed] restaurant indicated many unsafe food practices. I decided not to go to the restaurant after reading the inspection reports.

What due diligence does a restaurant reviewer perform before finalizing his or her review of a restaurant? I do not believe it’s in the best interest of the reader for a newspaper to write a review without including information as to whether it is safe to eat at that particular restaurant.

As intriguing are the comments following this story, with a few examples below:

whatnext         7/13/2009 6:06:39 AM
Correct me if I’m wrong, but, I seem to remember a time when the Chronicle actually posted the results of health inspections for restaurants. We should have a grading system like the one they have in L.A..

ringu    7/13/2009 6:18:41 AM
I agree I always liked the grading system that is used down south and wondered why we don’t use it here. Around here you have to ask the establishment owner for the inspection results since they aren’t posted for public viewing. I like seeing that grade when I go south it means alot for piece of mind and makes it easier to avoid places that are suspect.

signed_a_b     7/13/2009 7:18:03 AM
…The system we have in SF, where a yellow piece of paper (which may or may not be posted visibly) has health notes scribbled on it, is useless and absurd.

citizenkarma   7/13/2009 8:01:18 AM
Whatnext is right. I would add that health inspection information is much more valuable and actionable for cnsumers than the biased opinions of a food critic, usually recognized by owner and staff the minute they walk in, and who are treated royally accordingly. Think this does not influence the review? Think again.

Consumers in San Francisco, CA desire inspection information, and as the story and comments suggest, they want it easily accessible. The neighbouring cities of San Diego and Los Angeles have public disclosure systems in place — letter grades in the windows and reports online – why not San Francisco?