Washington woman on mission for restaurant grading system

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

Sarah Schaht, a longtime Seattle resident, who had been stricken with E. coli previously, said, “I had internal bleeding and stomach cramps that were debilitating.”

Ambassel Ethiopian Restaurant was closed down by King County health inspectors last jake.gyllenhaal.rest.inspection.disclosureyear.  But the owners have since reopened with a new name: Laco Melza.

Schaht chose the Ethiopian restaurant because customers on Yelp gave it nearly four stars.  What she didn’t know was the restaurant had failed six health inspections since 2010 and had one of the worst inspection scores of any Seattle restaurant last year.

Among the violations on March 6:

-Ready-to-eat food surfaces were being used to prepare raw meat.

-Workers weren’t washing their hands.

-There were insects and rodents in the restaurant.

“You have to be an expert to understand the scoring system,” said Schaht, because there are “red scores, blue scores, unsatisfactory, satisfactory.”

Schaht has started a petition to pressure King County health officials to adopt a simple letter grade system, in which restaurants are required to post an A, B, C or F grade in their front window so diners know how the establishment performed on its latest inspection. Cities in nine states have letter grade requirements, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.

KIRO 7 took the data from other cities to officials at Public Health–Seattle & King County to ask why they’ve opposed switching to a letter grade system. But they refused our requests for an interview.

Instead, we were given a statement that said the health department is currently looking into the letter grade system, after 1,768 people signed Schaht’s petition.