Nation’s Restaurant News reports that New York City’s Board of Health has approved a letter-grade “report card” system that will require all restaurants in the city to publicly display the grades they receive for food-safety inspections.

The new system, which was approved Tuesday, is expected to take effect in July. The health department said restaurants would receive grades based on the number of violations documented during their sanitary inspections, and each establishment will be required to post the grade at its point of entry. Restaurants receiving “A” grades would be inspected less often than those who score lower marks, officials said.

Inspection reports are currently posted on the health department’s website. Thomas Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, said the new system will make the inspection process more transparent, thus improving food safety conditions and, at the same time, allowing consumers to make better-informed dining choices.

“New York City restaurants are among the world’s best, and these simple reforms will make them even better,” Farley said. “Giving consumers more information will help make our restaurants safer and cleaner. The grade in the window will give you a sense of how clean the kitchen is, and it will give every restaurant operator an incentive to maintain safe, sanitary conditions.”

Andrew Rigie, a spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association, criticized the new letter-grade system, saying it would put additional pressure on establishments already struggling to increase their sales during the economic downturn.

“This new letter-grade system would put an unfair scarlet letter on restaurants based on sanitary conditions [that occur] at specific points in time,” Rigie said. “Many of the violations issued during an inspection are corrected before the inspector walks out the door.”

Read More at: Nation’s Restaurant News