5 on Your Side

The ABC's of Restaurant Bonus Points

Posted March 19, 2010 12:45 p.m. EDT

If you've caught even a few of our weekly restaurant sanitation reports over the years, you've heard us talk about the "2 point bonus" so many restaurants receive for attending a food safety class.   The points are offered as an incentive to get restaurants to send their employees to the class, which is not required.   You've probably also heard us say we don't include those points as part of the scores we report. Restaurant owners and managers frequently ask , "why not?"

We actually attended a ServSafe class a while back. We found it interesting and informative. Then we did extensive research on restaurants that take the class, those that don't and how the class impacted scores. When we looked at ALL of Wake County's inspection reports during a four month period in 2004, we found that of the roughly 650 inspections involving restaurants that had an employee attend a class, and then GOT the bonus points-- 41 posted A's ONLY because of the bonus!  Another 26 inspections were even lower-- scoring B's,  and in one case-- even a C.

We also found that the majority of restaurants that scored A's, NEVER took the ServSafe class! So while we believe the class is excellent and extremely thorough, the fact is-- the participants don't always use what they learn. We think that shows the bonus points truly have nothing to do with actual sanitation!  And think about it:  adding the two points, doesn't make the restaurant two points cleaner.  In other words, if two restaurants each have the same amount of violations, i.e., they each lose 5 points to have a 95-- but one got the bonus points to post a 97-- it is still no cleaner than the eatery that posts the 95.

I hope that at least offers some clarification as to why we stand firm on NOT including bonus points in our reports.  Bon appetite! Without the bonUS!

About this Blog:

In addition to the stories you see on TV, Monica is always looking for ways to help consumers find deals and avoid fraud. She'll blog about what you need to know here.