Health

LA County Health Department wants your help with its restaurant letter grade system

File: The Orange County Board of Supervisors is again considering recommendations from the county grand jury to alter restaurant health inspection signs.
File: The Orange County Board of Supervisors is again considering recommendations from the county grand jury to alter restaurant health inspection signs.
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You've seen the familiar letter grade cards posted on restaurant windows giving you a clue or two on what to expect from your dining experience, but is a letter enough? Seventeen years after the grading system launched, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department wants you to chime in about the system's effectiveness.

"We were overdue to do a thorough review of the program and find ways in which to enhance the information collected," Angelo Bellomo, director of environmental health for the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, told KPCC.

The placards are given to restaurants after inspecting the facilities' food handling and overall maintenance. To improve that system, the department is asking the public through a survey about their knowledge of the A-B-C letter system and what information would be most helpful to have on the card, including potentially having a date of the last inspection.  

"We really want the patrons of restaurants and other members of the public who have an interest in this to give us their thoughts about what information would be useful, if it was included on the grade card," Bellomo said. 

The survey is the result of a set of recommendations that were made in August to the Board of Supervisors.

Another part of the survey looks to find out what kind of information a smartphone app user would find most helpful.

"For example, we say, 'Would it be useful if there was a a QR code where you could use your smartphone and actually pass it over the card,'" Bellomo said. Then that would link your smartphone to the results of the last inspection, he said. 

The initial survey will run for the next couple of months. 

"We also give the person taking the survey the freedom to make other suggestions that they think would be helpful information when reviewing the grade card," said Bellomo.