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The LA County Health Department's Restaurant Grades Need a Serious Overhaul

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According to one report.

B Letter Grade, Los Angeles
B Letter Grade, Los Angeles
Eric Johnson/Flickr
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

It looks like Los Angeles County may begin to rethink it’s 17-year old health department grading format, which could have major effects on all those A’s, B’s, and C’s in everyone’s restaurant window.

The news comes yesterday from the Los Angeles Daily News, who say that the considered overhaul would be in response to a report that combed through 21 months of inspection data. The crux of that report is basically this: some restaurants are, given the current points ratings for violations, allowed to continue operating — and even still receive an A rating — despite at least two major violations being recorded by health inspectors. And since those letter grades are meant to be the public’s access into the nebulous world of restaurant health code ratings, showing an A despite playing host to major deficiencies in the kitchen could be at best disingenuous, and at worst a serious risk for customers.

To illustrate the point, LA Daily News uses Roy Choi’s Chego in Chinatown, arguing in the post (which has since been scrubbed heavily by the publication after Choi responded negatively on Twitter) that under a newer, stricter points system, the eatery would likely be facing a B grade instead of their current A thanks to a couple of major violations documented in October of last year during an inspection.

The report by LA News Group also suggests that restaurants should be forced to disclose cases of food-borne illnesses to the public, which would certainly be bad for business, but would likely keep away lawsuits like the one against Don Antonio’s (and their allegedly tainted salsa) from earlier this year.

It seems that Angelo Bellomo, LA County Department of Public Health director, is taking the recommendations seriously. "An A means something to people," Bellomo said to the LA Daily News, adding "that’s why I think this one may need an adjustment."