What do those restaurant grades mean?

The Riverside County restaurant grading system uses these signs which should be displayed near the entrance of eating establishments. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Restaurant grading systems in Riverside and San Diego County, like many other regions, are designed to ensure the safety and hygiene of food establishments, protect public health, and provide transparency to consumers. These grading systems are typically enforced by local health departments, and restaurants are regularly inspected to determine their compliance with food safety regulations. Here’s an overview of how restaurant grades work in Riverside and San Diego County, along with the criteria for each grade:

1. Inspection Frequency:

Restaurants in both Riverside and San Diego County are subject to routine inspections by the local health department. The frequency of inspections can vary depending on several factors, including the type of establishment, its history of compliance, and any complaints or foodborne illness reports.

2. Grading Scale:

Riverside County and San Diego County both use a similar grading scale, which typically includes three grades: “A,” “B,” and “C.”

3. “A” Grade:

Restaurants that receive an “A” grade have demonstrated a high level of compliance with food safety regulations during their inspection. They have met or exceeded the minimum requirements in areas such as food handling, temperature control, sanitation, and cleanliness.

Generally, an “A” grade indicates that the restaurant poses a low risk to public health.

4. “B” Grade:

A “B” grade is given to restaurants that have some violations during the inspection but are not in serious violation of food safety regulations.

These violations may include issues like minor temperature discrepancies, inadequate cleaning in certain areas, or other issues that need to be corrected.

Restaurants with a “B” grade are typically re-inspected to ensure that they have corrected the identified problems.

5. “C” Grade:

A “C” grade is a cause for concern and indicates that the restaurant has significant violations of food safety regulations.

Restaurants with a “C” grade may have issues like cross-contamination of food, improper storage of perishables, or inadequate sanitation practices.

These establishments often require immediate corrective action, and they may be temporarily closed if the violations pose an imminent health risk.

6. Closure and Re-inspection:

If a restaurant receives a “C” grade or has critical violations that cannot be corrected during the inspection, it may be closed temporarily until the issues are resolved.

After correction, the restaurant will undergo a follow-up inspection, and if it meets the necessary criteria, it can regain an “A” grade.

7. Posting of Grades:

In both counties, restaurant grades are typically required to be prominently displayed at the establishment, usually near the entrance. This allows customers to make informed decisions about where they choose to dine.

8. Public Access to Inspection Reports:

Riverside and San Diego County residents can often access restaurant inspection reports online, providing additional transparency and information about a restaurant’s compliance history.

It’s essential to note that while Riverside and San Diego Counties share similarities in their restaurant grading systems, specific regulations and procedures may evolve over time or have local variations. Therefore, it’s always a good idea for consumers and restaurant owners to consult their respective county health department websites for the most up-to-date information on grading criteria and procedures. Additionally, food establishments should prioritize ongoing staff training and strict adherence to food safety guidelines to maintain high grades and ensure the well-being of their customers.

Award of Recognition

According to the Riverside Dept. of Public Health website, there is also an “Award of Recognition” that was developed in 1998 in an effort to recognize food establishments which have consistently maintained exceptionally high sanitary operational, and structural standards assuring the maximum protection of the public’s health and safety.

In order to receive this award, a food establishment must maintain a score of 95% or above on all routine inspections the previous calendar year (minimum of two inspections), maintain a current Environmental Health Permit, and maintain food handling staff with valid Food Handler Certification. A listing of all food establishments which have qualified for this award will be prepared by March 1st of each year.

Information taken from https://RivCoEh.org/restaurant-grading and data.sandiegocounty.gov/stories/s/Food-Facility-Inspection-Grades/icun-qvbm/

Editorial Dept.

These stories are curated and posted by Valley News editorial staff members.