Deal reached to revamp NYC restaurant inspection system and related fines

New York City is going to make changes to its restaurant inspection system.

System critic, Council Speaker, and mayoral-hopeful Christine Quinn announced Sunday a deal has been reached to revamp some of the more highly criticized aspects of the city’s restaurant-inspection system, one that balances “the needs of restaurant and operators with our obligation to keep restaurants clean and safe for the public.”

Some of the most notable aspects of the deal, according to the Staten Island Advocate:

  • the fine for many of the most common violations will be dropped between 15 and 50 percent;
  • restaurants with less than 14 points after adjudication will not be required to pay any fines for that inspection;
  • restaurants that receive violations for structural irregularities — such as an improperly placed sink — will still be required to fix the violation but they will not be liable for the fine if they can prove that it was not noted in any previous inspection;
  • 60 percent of fines will be reset to the minimum $200 level i.e. the fine for a sewage disposal system in disrepair would drop from $348 to $200; and,
  • critical violations would be reduced to $300 and $350, compared to an average of $420.

In all, the reforms are expected to reduce fines by $10 million per year, Ms. Quinn’s office announced. It’s part of a larger set of reforms to be announced Wednesday.

“Restaurant letter grading was never supposed to be a way to generate additional fine revenue, Ms. Quinn said.

Health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the new system will be an improvement that will benefit all New Yorkers. “We began restaurant letter-grading to provide an added incentive to restaurants to have the best food safety practices. This system is working: restaurant practices are improving, and these practices are improving public health,” he said.