Health Inspection Grades Added to DC Yelp Pages

Health inspection scores now appear on the Yelp pages of many D.C. restaurants. 

The crowd-sourced review site announced Tuesday that the scores now appear on the pages for 3,000 restaurants, with more to come. 

The scores on a 1 to 100 scale are determined by HDScores, a company that analyzes data from health departments.

The D.C. Department of Health does not give restaurants numeric scores; rather, they used a pass/fail system. Those results can be found in an online database

Health inspectors check for multiple risk factors. Restaurants can receive an in compliance or not in compliance status. Risk factors are grouped by priority foundation violations (which are the most severe), priority violations and core violations. 

Yelp pages sort problems as critical or non-critical. How that determination is made is unclear. Yelp does not display whether any violation is a repeat violation or whether it was corrected on-site. No specific information is listed. 

Some restaurant owners are "concerned and uncomfortable” about Yelp's system, said Julie Sproesser, director of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. 

Sproesser said the restaurant association was in touch with Yelp and the D.C. health department to better understand how the scoring system works. 

News4 noticed gaps between how the D.C. health department and Yelp evaluated restaurants. 

For example, Sushi Para in the Van Ness neighborhood of Northwest D.C. has a Yelp score of 65, with one non-critical violation on record for a “variance obtained for specialized processing methods.” The D.C. health department report said the issue was a repeated core violation, meaning it was not high-priority. 

Yelp first started displaying health scores in San Francisco, California and New York in 2013. The company is planning to put health scores on Yelp pages in Virginia, too, a spokeswoman said. 

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