In July 2010, we started giving letter grades to all 24,000 of our city’s restaurants, delis and other eating establishments. These grades let customers know about the results of the Health Department’s periodic check-ups on sanitary conditions. Today, we released the first major study of how the system has worked, and there are four major findings – all of them great news for New Yorkers:
1) Kitchens across the city are cleaner. As of the end of January, a record 72% of restaurants were posting “A” grades in their windows.
2) New Yorkers overwhelmingly approve of posting the grades – by 91%, according to a Baruch College survey – and use it to make decisions about where to dine out.
3) Business is booming; restaurant revenues increased 9.3% during the first nine months of the program, compared to just 2.7% in the previous year. It just may be that clean kitchens are as good for business as clean air that is smoke-free.
4) Here is the most encouraging sign of all: Over the past year, the number of cases of salmonella infection – the best marker for foodborne illnesses – has dropped to a 20-year low.
No wonder New Yorkers support restaurant grades! The proof is in the pudding – and more than ever, the pudding is being prepared according to the highest food safety standards. And now, with our brand new iPhone and iPad app finding a clean kitchen around town is as easy as ABC.