Senate Sets Grading System For Food Establishments To Protect Consumer Health

June 25, 2010

Commissioner of Health to give restaurants A, B, or C letter grades

The Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation (S8171) that will require the Commissioner of Health to establish and implement a grading system classifying the findings of health inspectors at any place that prepares, sells or serves food to the public.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), permits the commissioner to implement a uniform grading system that will consist of letters A, B and C based on the sanitary conditions as concluded by health inspectors. The uniform system will address issues with the current system, as local health departments evaluation criteria and grading systems can vary widely between jurisdictions, creating confusion for consumers.
Establishments with less than an ‘A’ grade are subject to an immediate health and safety inspection. The City of New York has already undertaken this system to much success.
Food-related illness is a source of growing public concern in New York City. Complaints about food-borne illness have increased in recent years, and rodent infestations are a common problem in restaurants. Studies show more than 11,000 New Yorkers are treated each year for food related illnesses from restaurant food, resulting in annual costs for care of more than $130 million.
Senator Klein said, "Whether New Yorkers are dining out for a routine meal or to celebrate a special occasion, their only reservations should be about booking a table. Having a letter grade posted for all diners to see easily and clearly provides a real incentive for restaurants with a 'C' hanging in the doorway to clean up their act.”
When a grade is given to a food establishment, it will be required to be posted in a place that is easily visible to customers. This will provide consumers statewide with an easily accessible, plain and logical report of the establishment’s level of sanitation and general cleanliness.
This legislation will also encourage restaurants and other food services to strive to improve their sanitary standards. For more information about this legislation visit
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, "The residents of New York deserve to know in a clear, unambiguous fashion that the places they are eating are meeting standards set by the health department. This legislation will ensure uniformity and clarity in the ratings, protecting consumers from places that do not follow the rules."
Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) said, “Consumers have grown to expect quick service in all areas of business, especially at restaurants. Consequently, many establishments have become focused more on speed than clean. It is a difficult balancing act, but it can be accomplished. This grading system will give New Yorkers the ability to make informed on-the-go decisions when they need a quick meal and cause restaurants with low marks to reform their ways.”
Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said, "The reality in my district is that 90 percent of my constituents eat-out or order-in a majority of their meals, so this will go a long way in reassuring them of the quality in which their food was prepared. Supporting this bill was an easy choice, as clear as an A on a report card."
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone) said, "When you enter a restaurant, you have a right to know the results of the restaurant's most recent inspection in a clear and easy to understand format.  If we as consumers and customers cannot see into the kitchen, this legislation offers the next best thing: insight into the cleanliness of our city and state's food services."
Senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) said, “In New York City, millions of people eat out virtually every meal of every day. Not only does unsatisfactory restaurant cleanliness affect one person, but potentially could make hundreds sick at a time. The health of our people reflects upon fulfilling our responsibility in the Legislature to protect them from threats and illnesses and I commend my colleagues for addressing this pressing issue.”