Restaurant Cleanliness Grades Coming to D.C.?

Restaurant Cleanliness Grades Coming to D.C.? was originally published on City Desk on Feb. 02, 2009, at 4:38 pm

Los Angeles has ‘em. So does St. Louis, San Francisco, and the whole state of North Carolina.

Is the District next?

LL is talking letter grades here, specifically as applied to the cleanliness of restaurants, markets, taverns, and other establishments slinging comestibles. Anyone who’s been to L.A. has seen a big block “A,” “B,” or even “C” posted prominently outside all food-serving establishments. (You don’t stay open with anything less than that.) The thinking goes that the public scrutiny forces restaurants to aim for a level of sanitation beyond the bare minimum.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh says she’s introducing a bill at tomorrow’s legislative meeting that would implement an L.A.-style system here. In a press release, Cheh points to a “definitive study” that “13.1 percent decrease in the number of foodborne-disease hospitalizations in Los Angeles County in the year following the implementation of the program.”

So is this a valuable consumer protection measure or creeping nannyism at a time when restaurateurs are facing economic hardship?

Orange County, Calif., recently decided it was the latter, and rejected a letter-grade system. Don’t expect a warm reception from local restaurant owners -- LL will update with any official reaction he can muster.

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