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Numbers Could Replace Letters In Restaurant Inspection Grades

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RALEIGH, N.C. — When you go to a restaurant, you probably notice letter grades posted on the wall.

Many people believe an A means excellent, a B means good and a C is average.

When it comes to restaurant sanitation ratings, those letters do not always give a true picture of how a restaurant is doing. That is why a change to the system could be on the way.

When an health inspector comes into a restaurant, the person is looking for cleanliness behind the scenes and in front of the customer.

Restaurant patrons in North Carolina currently rely on lettered grade cards to determine how sanitary a restaurant is. But a decision on Wednesday could mean no more blue As, green Bs or red Cs on restaurant walls.

Instead, customers could see a number that represents the actual inspection results.

"My opinion is that it's better information than the ABC system," said Michael Rhodes of N.C. Health Services.

Rhodes is part of a state committee that studied the ABC system and decided it is not working.

"An A was OK to eat at, a B is not and a C is not, so what you've got there is a system that says a B is failing when actually anything below a C is failing," he said.

Wednesday, the committee planned to recommend the change to number grades to the Commission for Health Services. The actual score would be printed boldly in the center of the certificate and the letter grade would be deleted.

The North Carolina Restaurant Association supports the state's plan. However, the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors supports keeping the letter grade and adding an enlarged numerical score beside it.

The committee decided to seek more public input and delay the decision until its August meeting.


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