Bill S8171-2009

Directs commissioner of health to establish a uniform letter grading system to classify the result of an inspection of a food service establishment

Directs the commissioner of health to establish a uniform letter grading system to classify the result of an inspection of a food service establishment; directs such commissioner and local health officers to require the display of any letter grade received pursuant to such system; requires reinspection of establishment receiving a grade of less than "A"; provisions do not apply to food establishments in cities having a population of one million or more.

Details

Actions

  • Jun 25, 2010: referred to health
  • Jun 24, 2010: DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • Jun 24, 2010: PASSED SENATE
  • Jun 22, 2010: ORDERED TO THIRD READING CAL.1120
  • Jun 14, 2010: REFERRED TO RULES

Votes

VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Rules - Jun 22, 2010
Ayes (12): Smith, Espada, Montgomery, Duane, Hassell-Thompson, Krueger, Parker, Serrano, Dilan, Klein, Valesky, Larkin
Ayes W/R (6): Stachowski, Stewart-Cousins, Padavan, LaValle, Hannon, Saland
Nays (5): Skelos, Johnson O, Volker, Farley, Seward

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S8171

TITLE OF BILL:

An act to amend the public health law, in relation to the establishment of a letter grading system to classify inspection results for public food service establishments

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

The NYS Department of Health (DOH) shall establish and implement a uniform grading system consisting of letters A, B, and C to classify inspection results for public food service establishments. Such inspection grades shall be posted in a conspicuous location near the entrance of each food service establishment. Such letter grades and the criteria for designating such letter grades shall be established by Rule and shall be set by the Department of Health (DOH) based on objective criteria that evaluates each public food service establishment's sanitation and food handling practices.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1: Adds a new Public Health Law Section 1352-d to authorize DOH to establish and implement a uniform letter grading system to classify inspection results for places that serve food to the general public. The bill requires establishments engaged in the preparation, sale or service of food for the general public to display the letter grade (A, B, or C)received on its most recent inspection at the entrance of such food service establishment.

Such grades shall be based on objective criteria that reflects the safety and sanitation of the establishment and its food handling practices. DOH, in establishing criteria for awarding a restaurant's letter grade, shall consider only the conditions of a food service establishment related to its food handling practices and the general sanitary condition of such premises.

The bill provides safeguards to ensure that an accurate inspection is conducted that truly reflects the cleanliness of such establishment. Under this bill, if a food service establishment does not receive a letter grade "A", the restaurant owner will receive the findings upon which the grade is based. Further, the establishment can ask for a re-inspection to receive a higher grade. Such re-inspection must be conducted within 7 to 21 days. Upon such re-inspection, the local health inspector shall assign a letter grade for posting.

Pursuant to the State Administrative Procedure Act and the State Sanitary Code, after the second inspection, each public food service establishment may appeal, on an expedited basis, the letter grade assigned to it and petition for a different letter grade. During the pendency of this appeal the second letter grade awarded shall be posted at such food service establishment.

The letter grade program shall not apply to the following food service establishments:

- those located in New York City because the NYC Health Department has already adopted a similar program of letter grading of these establishments.

- bars and taverns that derive less than 10 percent of their gross sales revenue from the sale of food as opposed to alcoholic beverages.

- that do not engage in the retail sale of food for on or off premises consumption (i.e. food processing establishments that deliver food to other food service establishments that will have a posted grade)

- operated in or by primary and secondary schools or correctional faculties.

operated by charitable organizations, including soup kitchens or other prepared food distribution programs.

mobile food vending units.

JUSTIFICATION:

DOH is charged with inspecting and supervising all public places in New York in which food is prepared, sold or served, including restaurants and cafeterias. Inspectors from local health departments conduct unannounced inspections of food service establishments to evaluate the safety and sanitation of the premises, and monitor food handling practices to ensure adequate compliance with state and local laws.

An unfortunate effect of county-level enforcement is that the evaluation criteria and grading systems can vary widely between jurisdictions, making it difficult for consumers reading an inspection report to know whether an establishment's sanitary conditions are of the highest quality or some lower level with regard to sanitation and general cleanliness. A clear, concise system of letter grades would make it easier for consumers to make an informed dining decision and allow for more meaningful comparisons across jurisdictions. Further, such grading system will encourage all restaurants to more vigilantly upgrade their cleanliness and sanitation standards.

The concept and bill are supported by prominent restaurant evaluators such as Tim Zagat, who in the New York Times (3/24/10) endorsed the idea of issuing restaurant grades as a way to encourage restaurants to clean up their act. In fact, Mr. Zagat maintains that this bill may encourage more tourism and patron.age of restaurants because they are cleaner.

In Los Angeles, a similar restaurant grading program was instituted over 10 years ago. In Los Angeles, those restaurants that received an "A" increased from 40% to over 80% in 2007. This indicates that restaurants take these grades seriously and will beef-up their sanitation and food handling practices to receive a higher rating. In Los Angeles, 92% of all local diners favor the grade posting law. In New York, a recent Zagat Survey reported that 83% of all respondents wanted the health inspection grades posted.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

2004: A.2702 - Referred to the Health Committee 2006: S.2696 - Referred to Health 2008: S.2243 - Referred to Health 2009: A similar bill S.4589 - Passed in the Senate

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect one year after it shall have become a law. The commissioner of health is authorized to promulgate any and all rules and regulations and take any other measures necessary to implement this act on its effective date on or before such date.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 8171 IN SENATE June 14, 2010 ___________
Introduced by Sen. KLEIN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to the establishment of a letter grading system to classify inspection results for public food service establishments THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The public health law is amended by adding a new section 1352-d to read as follows: S 1352-D. PUBLIC FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT GRADING SYSTEM. 1. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ESTABLISH A SYSTEM FOR GRADING INSPECTION RESULTS FOR PUBLIC FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS, AS DEFINED IN THE STATE SANITARY CODE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, RESTAURANTS, DINING ROOMS, DELIS, BAKERIES OR ANY OTHER PLACE WHERE FOOD IS PREPARED, SOLD OR SERVED FOR CONSUMPTION BY THE GENERAL PUBLIC. SUCH SYSTEM SHALL USE AND POST LETTERS A, B OR C TO IDENTIFY AND REPRESENT SUCH GRADING AND CLASSIFICA- TION WITH ALL OTHER LOWER GRADES BEING DEEMED TO BE FAILING GRADES. IN ESTABLISHING SUCH SYSTEM OF GRADING, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS TITLE AND THE PROVISIONS OF THE SANITARY CODE TO ESTABLISH A GRADING SYSTEM THAT REFLECTS THE SAFETY AND SANITA- TION OF THE PREMISES AND FOOD HANDLING PRACTICES TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH STATE AND LOCAL HEALTH LAWS. 2. SUCH PUBLIC FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT SHALL CONSPICUOUSLY POST NEAR THE ENTRANCE TO SUCH ESTABLISHMENT THE LETTER GRADE IDENTIFYING AND REPRESENTING THE RESULT OF SUCH ESTABLISHMENT'S MOST RECENTLY GRADED INSPECTION BY THE LOCAL HEALTH OFFICER. SUCH POSTING SHALL BE DONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH RULES AND REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY THE COMMISSIONER. FOR ANY FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT RECEIVING A GRADE LOWER THAN "A", THE LOCAL HEALTH OFFICER SHALL ADVISE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ITS GRADE AND THE FINDINGS UPON WHICH SUCH GRADE IS BASED. THE LOCAL HEALTH OFFICER SHALL CONDUCT A SUBSEQUENT INSPECTION OF SUCH FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT NO SOONER THAN SEVEN DAYS, NOR LATER THAN TWENTY-ONE DAYS AFTER THE INSPECTION AT WHICH THE GRADE WAS GIVEN. IN THE INTERIM, THE PREVIOUS LETTER GRADE SHALL REMAIN POSTED. UPON THE CONCLUSION OF THE SUBSEQUENT
INSPECTION, THE LOCAL HEALTH OFFICER SHALL DELIVER FOR POSTING A LETTER TO THE FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT WHICH INDICATES THE GRADE FOR SUCH INSPECTION. IN ADDITION TO A LETTER GRADE, SUCH ESTABLISHMENT SHALL RECEIVE THE FINDINGS UPON WHICH SUCH GRADE IS BASED. THE FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT MAY APPEAL SUCH SUBSEQUENT ASSIGNMENT OF A LETTER GRADE DESIGNATION TO THE COMMISSIONER FOR REVIEW WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF SUCH ASSIGNMENT. WHILE ANY SUCH APPEAL IS PENDING, A FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISH- MENT SHALL POST THE LETTER GRADE THAT IS BEING APPEALED. 3. THE SUGGESTED INTERVAL BETWEEN REGULARLY SCHEDULED INSPECTIONS OF FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS MAY BE AS FOLLOWS: (A) FOR ESTABLISHMENTS WITH A GRADE OF "A", AT LEAST ONCE EVERY YEAR; AND (B) FOR ESTABLISHMENTS WITH A GRADE OF "B", AT LEAST ONCE EVERY NINE MONTHS. A FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT THAT REQUESTS A REINSPECTION FROM THE LOCAL HEALTH OFFICER, SHALL PAY THE DEPARTMENT A FEE OF UP TO TWO HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS. PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT NEGATE THE ABILITY OF ANY LOCAL HEALTH OFFICER TO INSPECT ANY FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT ON THE BASIS OF A COMPLAINT FROM A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC. 4. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS WHICH: (A) ARE PREMISES LICENSED FOR ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES PURSUANT TO THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL LAW WHEN LESS THAN TEN PERCENT OF THE GROSS SALES OF SUCH ESTABLISHMENT IS DERIVED FROM THE RETAIL SALE OF FOOD FOR ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION; (B) DO NOT ENGAGE IN THE RETAIL SALE OF FOOD FOR ON-PREMISES OR OFF-PREMISES CONSUMPTION FROM SUCH ESTABLISHMENT; (C) ARE LOCATED IN A CITY HAVING A POPULATION OF ONE MILLION OR MORE; (D) ARE OPERATED IN OR BY A PRIMARY OR SECONDARY SCHOOL, OR A CORREC- TIONAL FACILITY; (E) ARE SPONSORED BY A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION TO OPERATE A SOUP KITCHEN OR OTHER FOOD DISTRIBUTION PROGRAM FOR THE ELDERLY, LOW INCOME INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES OR THE INFIRM; OR (F) ARE MOBILE FOOD VENDING UNITS, MOBILE FOOD VENDING COMMISSARIES OR TEMPORARY FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS. S 2. This act shall take effect one year after it shall have become a law. Provided, however, that effective immediately, any rules and regu- lations necessary to implement the provisions of this act on its effec- tive date are authorized and directed to be completed on or before such date.

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