Find out what it takes to survive the unique letter-grading system mandated by several California counties.
Making the grade
During the past decade, many California counties have adopted a unique health-inspection grading system that requires food facilities to post an "A," "B" or "C" card in the front window. This public display of grades is designed to encourage owners to maintain health and safety requirements, and customers appreciate knowing exactly how the facility measures up. Read on, and see what it takes to be an "A" establishment.
There are multiple components involved in a full, unannounced inspection. Health inspectors do a thorough walk-through of the facility and deduct points – based on a 100-point scale – for code violations. The remaining points indicate the letter grade the food facility will earn.
An "A" grade
A foodservice facility that receives an "A" grade is superior in food-handling practices and overall maintenance and sanitation. This grade does not require an additional rescore inspection before the next unannounced inspection.
A "B" grade
An establishment that earns a "B" grade has acceptable food-handling practices, and acceptable overall foodservice-facility maintenance and sanitation. Although no additional rescore inspection is required, an owner may want the opportunity to earn an "A" by requesting another inspection. The owner will be charged for the additional evaluation.
A "C" grade
A foodservice facility that earns a "C" grade is considered to have unacceptable food-handling practices and overall general maintenance and sanitation. To avoid closure:
- Violations must be corrected within 30 days of the original inspection.
- The owner must submit a written request for a rescore inspection.
- The health department will conduct the follow-up inspection within 10 days of receiving the written request.
A facility that earns less than 70 points does not receive a grade – instead, the owner will receive a "CLOSED" sign. The facility must remain closed for a minimum of 24 hours due to poor food-handling practices and overall maintenance and sanitation. After 24 hours of closure, a required reopening inspection will be conducted within 10 days. In order to reopen, the facility must earn at least a "B" upon re-inspection.
Regardless of a facility's score, a health inspector can close any operation they deem an immediate danger to the health and safety of the public. Some examples of immediate danger include:
- Vermin infestation
- Sewage backup
- Lack of hot water
- A power outage
If your facility undergoes inspection tomorrow, how would you measure up? To help avoid the dreaded "CLOSED" sign, keep these basics in mind:
- Keep your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards for meat, vegetables and bread.
- Refrigerate pre-browned or partially cooked meats immediately.
- Remove expired products and throw away leftovers after 3â€“4 days.
- Seal and store any open foods or baking ingredients to prevent vermin infestation.
- Dispose of any swollen or damaged cans of food.
- Use a bleach solution every few days to sanitize cabinets and storage areas.