PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When you go out to eat, you expect a safe meal that won’t make you sick.

For several years, the Allegheny County Health Department has been working on a plan to give patrons a warning system before they dine out.

Unlike the current pass-fail system that can sometimes leave unsuspecting diners unaware that a restaurant wasn’t quite bad enough to flunk, the health department wanted to issue a numerical and letter grade to restaurants.

While the health department proposed grading eateries according to their cleanliness and sanitation, the county board of health has reversed itself and rejected the grading system.

The head of the Allegheny County Health Department was enthusiastic about the new system two years ago. “I think you will see by this time next year that we have a system in place where a restaurant gets a point score and a grade,” Dr. Bruce Dixon told KDKA-TV in November of 2009.

Ever since then, though, Dr. Dixon and the health department came under intense pressure from the county’s restaurant association who wanted no part of a grading system. They claim it was unfair since no other county in the state graded its restaurants.

Dr. Dixon was unavailable to comment on the failure to launch his grading system. Likewise, the restaurant owners who found the new system hard to swallow refused to talk about it on camera.

Consumers can, however, rely on the health department’s website for alerts about bad restaurants. Visitors to the site can even look up a restaurant’s inspection report.

“Health Dept. Plans Restaurant Inspection Grading System” (KDKA-TV, 1/13/11)
Allegheny County Health Department Restaurant Search
“Public Comments On Restaurant Rating System,” (ACHD)
“Health Board Seeks Public Comment On Restaurant Rating System,” (ACHD, 1/19/11)
Allegheny County Health Department’s Food Safety Division

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