Restaurant Grading System Protects Consumers, Quality of Dining
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
PALM DESERT - Do you pay attention to those restaurant ratings in the window? And do you even know what they really mean?
Reported by Gloria Rodriguez, KMIR6 Today Anchor
Benjamin Bautista says he and his family work very hard to keep their restaurant, La Tarasca up to code.
"Cleaning, being on top of everything, making sure everything is just the way the health department requires," Bautista tells KMIR6 is the key to a good grade and a successful restaurant.
So when Jenny Gonzalez of the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health arrives for a surprise inspection at Bautista's restaurant, the family is ready. And so is Gonzalez, with her checklist of what to look out for like unsafe temperatures and storage issues, rodent and pest infestation and cross-contamination issues.
The family-owned La Tarasca restaurant in Indio specializes in Mexican food. They just opened five months ago and the owners say they realize the importance of keeping their 'A' rating.
"That's the number one important thing for me," says Bautista. "It keeps customers coming back. Keep the place clean. That's the only way we keep our 'A' rating."
Here's how it works. Every restaurant starts with 100 points. The points are deducted for any food safety violations. The county then issues the A, B or C rating. An 'A' is the only passing grade in Riverside County. A 'B' or 'C' means the" establishment does not comply with minimum sanitary standards. They can then fix the problems and try again to get an 'A' grade within a week.
Keith Jones with the Riverside County Environmental Health Department says the county adopted the grading system about 50 years ago, one of the first in the state to do so. Jones says when a restaurant receives a "C" rating that means there are some major violations which can pose a serious health risk to consumers and some facilities must be shut down.
But not La Tarasca. Bautista's restaurant passes the surprise inspection and holds onto its "A" rating.
"I want to see that 365 days a year," Bautista says. "That's our pride. It shows we're working hard."
If you're curious about your favorite restaurant's code visit the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health's website.
Keep in mind that the grades can change fairly quickly. Restaurants that receive anything below an "A" need to be reinspected within a week.