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County Hoping To Implement New System To Grade Restaurants

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Paul Martino Paul Martino
Paul joined KDKA-TV in 1984 as a general assignment reporter and later...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – How safe is the restaurant you’re eating in?

For the most part, restaurants in Allegheny County are safe.

A green Allegheny County Health Department sticker indicates a restaurant has been inspected by the county. You can even look up a restaurant’s inspection report online.

Now though, the county wants to take it a step further and post grades on restaurant safety.

Diners like the idea.

“I think it would be nice to know how sanitary the places are that you’re unfamiliar with,” said Amanda Nortel, of Sarver.

Jeff Cohen, of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, is also a restaurant owner. While he stops short of opposing the new grading system, he is concerned.

“We’re in favor of improving food safety. We just want to make sure that it’s fair and transparent. Everyone understands it,” said Cohen. “They come in and take a snap shot in an hour inspection. You’re open for 365 days and they have one hour to judge your business.”

The folks at the health department say the system will be fair to all.

“Restaurants will have the opportunity to number one, do well at the first inspection. But if there are issues that are raised, they will have the opportunity to fix those issues and raise their grade,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, the chairman of the Allegheny County Board of Health.

There’s one criticism of Allegheny County’s restaurant inspections that just about everybody agrees on.

The inspection department – it’s understaffed, the inspectors are paid relatively low wages and there’s a high rate of turn over.

It means the county isn’t keeping up with the annual inspections required for all restaurants. So they’ve hired a food safety consultant to review the grading system and figure out ways to improve the inspection system.

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