Disclosing inspection results: Voluntary or mandatory?

My philosophy on disclosing restaurant inspection information hasn’t wavered much in the past 10 years: Make inspection results public and communicate them meaningfully to help patrons make decisions. There’s a patchwork approach to disclosure throughout the world: happy faces, letter grades, number grades or the not-well-used barf-o-meter.


Whatever the system is, it’s necessary to pull back the curtain on what happens when inspectors are around. The transparency not only builds trust in the system, but also allows folks to choose businesses based on their own risk tolerance.

According to Australia’s Fraser Coast Chronicle, businesses will be provided with a rating score but will not be required to post it. The hope is that businesses receiving a stellar score will see the marketing advantage and will voluntarily post the ratings – while those not posting due to less-than-ideal ratings will raise their level of attention to get the higher rating.

Branded Scores on Doors, the program’s aim is to encourage food safety across the Fraser Coast.

Businesses will not be forced to display their ratings but the thinking is those with better scores will display to gain customer trust and improved trade.

A report showed those with a lower rating would be made to pay more fees, while the businesses that scored better paid less because fewer inspections were needed.

Joep Dekker from Wild Lotus in Hervey Bay said he would proudly display his score.

He said he was confident of a strong rating because he knew his business had high standards when it came to cleanliness.

“It is something to be proud of, a good score,” he said.

According to the Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne-Allen County (Indiana) health department is taking a different path to disclosing inspections: Moving to a risk-based rating and a corresponding smartphone ap.

Ann Applegate, director of the health department’s Food and Consumer Protection Division, said her department is considering programs from across the country to find a good match for the county.

“We have been looking at several different models of these restaurant grading systems and seeing how we can implement those into what we currently have,” Applegate said.

The new grading scale or points system would place more emphasis on risk-based violations, making it easier for the public to understand the severity of the violation.

[Mindy] Waldron said the department is also in the process of developing an app for smartphones that would allow people to view public documents such as food and beverage inspections.

11 sick; when public health sucks; food outlet will remain anonymous in NZ Salmonella outbreak

Eleven people were sickened with Salmonella last month linked to a northern New Zealand food outlet.

And that outlet will remain a mystery.

Dr Andrew Lindsay, spokesman for the Northland District Health Board says they’ve investigated claims from nine people who say they ate at the same place in Whangarei and came away with food poisoning.

Dr Andrew Lindsay says, as there is no on-going risk, it is not in the public barf.o.meter.dec.12interest to reveal which outlet was under scrutiny.


It is most certainly in the public interest to know what caused the outbreak, where it happened and what has been done to prevent future outbreaks.

As a consumer, why would I spend money at a place that didn’t practice proper food safety? How would I know? Faith-based food safety rules.

Public health is supposed to help the public, not industry or any other group.

And for the mysterious food outlet, rather than hide behind anonymity or the magic drape of government inspection, the outlet should declare itself, or others will do it for you.

Eleven people were sickened; anyone want to step forward?