BatteryPark.TV helps prompt City Council investigation of restaurant letter grading system

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Update: March 7, 2012

The City Council meets today in a hearing sponsored by Speaker Christine Quinn, to address complaints about the city’s controversial restaurant letter grading system. Per video, and stories below, many call the system rigged and nothing more than a new tax on restaurants.

January 13, 2012

Did BatteryPark.TV’s reporting from January 7 (And the much larger New York Post) cause this January 11 email from the City Council? Several restaurant owners seem to think so and forwarded us this email. If you feel you are being “shaked down” by inspectors, email us and we will send cameras over within minutes.


City Council Launches Restaurant Inspection Survey 

January 11, 2012

From Speaker Christine C. Quinn

Council seeks feedback from restaurant owners on City’s food safety inspection process and new letter grading system.

As part of the City Council’s oversight of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and in response to mounting concerns raised by city restaurateurs regarding the restaurant inspection process, yesterday I, along with Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo announced the launch of a comprehensive restaurant inspection survey. City restaurant owners and operators are urged to participate in this Council effort to gather information on food safety inspections, with particular emphasis on the recently implemented letter grading system and its impact on city restaurants. The survey is available online at and accessible through the Council’s website at The questionnaire will also be available in six different languages. The survey results will provide a foundation for an oversight hearing in late February, where the Council intends to further explore the inspection process and possible areas for reform. 

I am troubled by the wave of complaints the Council has received from restaurants – even the ones that get A’s – about the fairness and inconsistency of the food safety inspection process. Any initiative – especially 18 months after establishment – calls for scrutiny. With this survey, we hope to learn more about what is and isn’t working, including whether the grading system has been implemented fairly. The participation of restaurateurs in this analysis is critical, and we look forward to hearing their input.

Divided into two sections, the first part of the survey seeks background information about the food establishment and solicits views on DOHMH’s inspection process and the letter grading system. The second section requests recent historical data about experiences with inspections and adjudication in administrative tribunals. Specifically, this section seeks details about violations issued during each inspection from 2008 to the present, along with costs accrued in connection with the payment of fines, consultants and improvements. Survey participants are encouraged to answer as many questions as possible.

In July 2010, DOHMH began requiring food service establishments to post letter grades corresponding with scores reflecting sanitary inspections during which restaurants receive points for violations. An inspection score of 0-13 violation points is an A, 14-27 violation points is a B, and 28 or more violation points is a C. Grade cards are meant to be clearly visible to the public.


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