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NYC Restaurant Health Grades Begin

A-B-C Grades Now The Standard
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Photo/Carol D'Auria

Photo/Carol D’Auria

CBS New York (con't)

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By PABLO GUZMAN, CBS 2 News

Picking out the best restaurant for dinner is now about more than the menu. On Wednesday, New York City rolled out a system to grade restaurants on sanitary inspections, and it’s supposed to be as easy as reading the alphabet.

However, some restaurants could get bad grades that customers never know about.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley gave the first “A” out on Wednesday to Sparks Deli in Long Island City to highlight the new rating system for sanitary restaurants.

A place that might get a “B” or “C” score, though, can keep an “A” in the window until a follow-up inspection is completed, so an unsuspecting customer thinks he’s walking into an “A” restaurant.

“The grade is pending until that appeals process plays out,” Dr. Farley said.

But shouldn’t customers know before they walk into a questionable restaurant that there’s a possibility that it doesn’t deserve that “A” in the window?

“You can go to our inspection site, our Web site…we’re making that information available,” Dr. Farley said. “The restaurants have the right to have a bad grade [not] posted if it turns out there was some error made.”

Did you catch that? The restaurants have the right, he said, not to have a bad grade in the window – in case the city made a mistake! But when I asked Dr. Farley what would happen if the city was right, we got nowhere.

Customers, though, did not agree.

“I personally would want to know if it was rated horribly, just because I will be eating the food,” Upper East Side resident Alexandra Stromer said.

The New York State Restaurant Association had their own criticism.

“Our belief is that you’re either sanitary enough to serve the public, or you’re not,” the restaurant association’s Andrew Rigie said. “It should be an ‘A’ if you pass, or an ‘F’ if you fail.”

Here’s what customers will be seeing: the “B” for places that get 14-27 bad points, the “C” for 28 or more points, and “Grading Pending” if there’s an appeal.

The city says you’ll start seeing scores of “A” now, but you won’t see lower scores in the windows until late August.

(© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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