Posting restaurant grades as motivation in Jersey

All I know about Jersey I’ve learned from Don Schaffner, Michele Samarya-Timm, The Sopranos, Snooki and Jon Stewart. In that order. Following the lead of lots of other jurisdictions, the city of Vineland (that’s in Jersey) is about to post its restaurant inspection result summaries online – and depending what citizens want, may see entire inspection sheets (that’s how it’s done in most of North Carolina). According to the Daily Journal, now everyone can see how Vinnie’s Pizzeria did on their last visit from an Environmental Health Officer.

In response to public demand, the city’s health department is now posting restaurant inspection ratings online.
At least once a year, health department staffers conduct on-site inspections of the city’s more than 400 retail food establishments and review their food handling processes. Inspectors look at things such as the cleanliness of work surfaces, personal hygiene of workers and whether proper temperatures are used when heating, cooling and storing food, said Jeanne Garbarino, the city’s principal sanitary inspector.

These inspections result in a rating of satisfactory, conditional or unsatisfactory.
Each business is issued a certificate that by state law must be posted in a conspicuous place to alert patrons of the health rating.

Inspection reports are public documents, Garbarino said. The new online listing gives diners a central place to review all health ratings as well as the last date of an establishment’s inspection. The health department’s website is
This is just the first phase of giving the public more access to information, Garbarino said.
The next step, she said, is to assemble a focus group of about 15 people who will help determine what other information should be added to the health department’s website.

They will be asked, “What do you want us to show,” Garbarino said, noting one option is to post full inspection reports, which is already done in Virginia and Rhode Island.

A couple of restaurant operators who have nothing to hide, and seem to get promoting food safety culture, like the idea:

Saverio Brunetti of Dominick’s Pizza on South Lincoln Avenue welcomed it.

Safe food handling is a serious issue, Brunetti said, adding “You don’t want to give a customer a bad product.”
At Dominick’s Pizza, the health rating certificate is posted on the front wall among the establishment’s accolades so customers can see it.

“The satisfactory rating is not an achievement, it’s a standard we maintain,” Brunetti said.

The online rating information would not only be useful to him as a business manager, Brunetti said, he would use it as a diner.
And, Brunetti said, he might also be tempted to see how his competitors were faring.

“I don’t see a problem with it,” said Russell Swanson, owner of Bain’s Deli on Landis Avenue, noting customers can already see the satisfactory certificate at the deli.

Councilman Louis Cresci, the former director of the city’s health department, supported the online postings.

“The public part of this is supposed to be a motivational tool for these operators,” he said.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.