5 On Your Side

WRAL Viewers Respond To Proposed Changes In Sanitation Grades

Posted May 23, 2002

— Last week, WRAL told viewers about an effort to change the restaurant sanitation grading system from letters to numbers. Several WRAL viewers sent their responses and suggestions to the proposed change.

The food may look great, but most people do not know what goes on behind the scenes of their favorite restaurants. That is why people depend on county inspectors to note violations, then post a grade.

Right now, that grade means a blue "A," green "B," or red "C" with the exact score written in the corner.

A state committee wants to drop the current letter and replace them with purple and white ones showing numbers only. The State Association of Local Health Directors are against the change. It has another proposal: keep the letter and make the number bigger.

Many of you agree -- including Beth, who writes: "It's always best to give the public all the information. Why would they do otherwise?"

Another viewer says dropping the letter "will have people trying to decide what the number is...an A or a B?"

Another viewer, Mac, wants even more information saying "specific infractions should be listed." Another viewer suggests a change in the scoring scale saying "an A should be 95 or higher. A 'B' should be 90."

Since an individual grade is only part of the story, some want grade cards that show the sanitation history.

Several WRAL viewers feel the bright color coding should remain.

"We believe the color scheme of blue, green and red is working well," said Wayne Raynor, head of the State Association of Local Health Directors.

Raynor said the group feels showing both numbers and letters best protects the eating public.

"I think the acid test for us in public health is, 'Will they change, reduce or eliminate food-borne outbreaks in restaurants? Will they change or improve sanitation? Going with a strictly numeric score, the answer to that is no,'" he said.

Right now, seven counties are using the numbers-only system as part of a pilot program. Three counties support the plan. The Commission for Health Services will meet in August to decide.

You can still add your thoughts to our

and we will get your responses to the Commission.


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