Back to top

How we grade restaurants and food trucks

Last updated: 11/1/16

How we grade restaurants and food trucks

The Health Division of Inspectional Services inspects all restaurants and mobile food trucks at least once a year. We check for compliance with health and sanitation codes. Our inspections are scored and we give establishments a letter grade of A, B, or C.

Scoring inspections

Each restaurant begins an inspection with 100 points. We deduct points for each violation an inspector observes. We assign point values based on the health risk a violation poses to the public. The inspector adds up the score when they complete the inspection. The higher the score, the better the restaurant performed on the inspection.

Violations fit into three categories:
  1. A foodborne critical violation, such as failing to keep food at safe temperatures, carries a higher risk of foodborne illness and a penalty of 10 points.
  2. critical violation, such as re-serving unwrapped food items, carries a penalty of 7 points.
  3. A non-critical violation, such as failing to properly clean walls, ceilings, or other non-food-contact surfaces, carries a penalty of 2 points.
Still have questions? Contact:
Inspectional Services
1010 Massachusetts Avenue
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
United States
Mayor's Food Court

The Mayor's Food Court is our online database that keeps track of food service businesses in the City.

Search the food court

How scores become grades

Restaurant grades

Here's how scores are turned into grades:

  • A score of 94 to 100 points results in an A.
  • A score of 81 to 93 points results in a B.
  • A score of 80 or fewer points results in a C.

This system conforms to our standing practice of allowing a restaurant to pass an inspection with up to three (3) non-critical violations. This also ensures that we reserve higher grades for restaurants with fewer critical violations.

Low scores
If a restaurant earns a very low score, we will take any action we see as necessary. This includes a temporary closure of a restaurant. We work with low-scoring restaurants to improve their practices and to help them comply with sanitary codes.

Posting grades for restaurants

Posting timeline

If a restaurant earns an A on its initial inspection, we post the grade to the City’s website. If a restaurant does not earn an A on its initial inspection, we inspect the establishment again within 30 days and the grade earned on the second inspection gets posted.

If a restaurant is not satisfied with its grade during the second inspection, it may pay for another, off-hours inspection. The grade from this new inspection will then become the grade for the restaurant.

Posting requirements

In the first year of the program, a restaurant may choose whether to also post its grade at its location. After the first year, a restaurant must post its grade placard right when it's received.

The location of the grade placard needs to be:

  • inside the restaurant
  • at eye-level and unobstructed
  • facing outward on an exterior-facing wall or window, and
  • within five feet of the main entrance.
More grading information

We don't grade establishments that sell packaged food for retail, but do not serve food. We inspect (and grade) low-scoring restaurants more often. Here's the timeline for inspections:

  • We inspect restaurants that earn an A at least once a year.
  • We inspect restaurants that earn a B at least once every six months.
  • We inspect restaurants that earn a C at least once every three months.