Mayor Walsh Files Ordinance to Establish Restaurant Grading System
August 3, 2016
BOSTON - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today filed an ordinance to establish a restaurant and food truck letter grading system to protect consumers and provide them with information about recent health inspections. If passed, the policy will allow inspectors to transmit violations noted into a numerical point system, which in turn will be assessed to a letter grade and prominently placed on the exterior wall of the establishment.
"Boston's restaurants play a strong role in fueling our local economy, and it is our job to ensure these establishments are adhering to all required codes to protect Boston's residents and visitors," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "By creating a grading system, we are providing an extra layer of transparency and accountability for restaurants and consumers."
There are approximately 3,000 restaurants in the City of Boston that are inspected at least twice per year. Restaurants found to be at a higher risk for foodborne illness (high number of critical violations) are subject to additional inspections throughout the year. All inspection reports are available to the public here.
In accordance to the Federal Food Code, points will be based on the following three categories of violations: foodborne critical, non-foodborne critical and non-critical. The ordinance will allow each category of violations to be assigned numerical points, which are deducted from a point score of 100 during the inspection to include the following:
- Foodborne critical violations = 10 points
- Non-foodborne critical violations = 7 points
- Non-critical violations = 2 points
Inspections will issue the establishment's letter grade to correspond to the score as follows:
- 94-100 = A
- Less than 81=C
"The newly proposed ordinance will not only allow for accountability, but transparency as well," said Inspectional Services Department Commissioner William Christopher. "Posting the letter grades will allow the public to have more information as they make their decision as to where they want to dine."
ISD worked with members of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA) to garner feedback on the proposal, and will continue to engage prior to implementing the letter grading system.
"Food safety is every restaurant operators' first priority," said Bob Luz, President and Chief Executive of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. "A health inspection represents a single snapshot in time and there will need to be an educational component to the dining public in regards to this new system. We are thankful to the City for engaging in a thoughtful dialogue and exchanging of ideas to address the concerns that undoubtedly will arise as a result of changing to a letter grading system."
Restaurants that do not earn an "A" during the initial inspection will automatically be re-inspected within 30 days. During the inspection the establishment will be given the opportunity to improve its letter grade by correcting the violations. If all violations have been corrected, the inspector will adjust the establishments score to reflect the most recent inspection and a new grade will be issued. If more than one re-inspection is requested, the owner/manager must pay an "off hour inspection" fee and the issued letter grade will be evaluated. Failure to post the letter grade will result in a penalty of $300.00.
About the Inspectional Services Dept. (ISD)
The Inspectional Services Department (ISD) is comprised of five regulatory divisions whose aim is to protect and improve the quality of life for all Boston residents by effectively administering and enforcing building, housing, health, sanitation and safety regulations mandated by City and State governments.
About the Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA)
Founded in 1934, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA) is a trusted not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of the foodservice industry in the state of Massachusetts. The MRA exists to help food and beverage providers succeed through education, cost-savings programs, networking, and government advocacy. Together with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the MRA works to promote current and future industry leaders. Learn more at on their website.