King County’s New Food Safety Rating System for Restaurants

King County has unveiled a new poster system which will give restaurant visitors an immediate view of how the establishment was rated for food safety.

The new posters will be prominently placed in the doorway of a restaurant to show how they compare, on a scale of poor to excellent.  Each restaurant’s average score is compared with other restaurants within the same zip code or area.

A restaurant’s rating category is determined by three main components:

Trend of food safety practices over time. Good food safety needs to be practiced every day. The food safety rating window signs will reflect how well a restaurant has performed over time, not just on a single inspection. A restaurant’s food safety rating will be determined by the average of red critical violation points from a restaurant’s last four routine inspections.

Scale of performance. King County residents want to know more than if a restaurant passes or fails an inspection. The restaurant window signs will show how well the restaurant practices food safety beyond meeting the minimum standard.

Rating on a curve. Consumers tend to dine locally by their zip code or area. Rating on a curve provides accurate and useful information to consumers about how well a restaurant performs on food safety compared to other restaurants nearby.  Also, restaurants within an area tend to have the same food inspector. Inspectors go through extensive training and all focus on food safety. Even with the training, they may still have slightly different inspection styles. Rating on a curve helps compensate for differences in inspection rating style.

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