Now I Know My ABC’s: The Restaurant Grading System

Now I Know My ABC’s: The Restaurant Grading System


By Carolyn Daman, Guest Blogger

Does the letter grade you see on a restaurant window affect whether or not you decide to eat at that establishment?

Restaurant Grades
In July 2010, the New York City Department of Health began requiring restaurants to post a letter grade that reflects their sanitary inspection outcome. Health inspections occur at least once a year to assess how well a restaurant is meeting the City and State food safety requirements. Each violation earns a certain number of points depending on the health risk it poses to the public and following an initial inspection or a re-inspection, the total score is translated into an overall letter grade. The fewer health risks, the better the grade.

The Breakdown
Three Categories of Violations:

  • Public Health Hazards have the potential to cause an immediate health threat and require a score of at least 7 points.
  • Critical Violations will not cause immediate health threats, but require a score of at least 5 points.
  • General Violations require a score of at least 2 points.


Restaurant Grades:

  • Grade A: Total score between 0 and 13 points
  • Grade B: Total score between 14 and 27 points
  • Grade C: Total score of 28 points or more
  • Grade Pending: Don’t let this sign fool you – Restaurant’s given a B or C letter grade have the option of posting the grade card or posting a “Grade Pending” sign until they are re-evaluated.


Safe Eats App
Safe Eats NYC is a free app that provides detailed information about the 24,000 New York City eateries in all five boroughs. You can use the ‘Map Your Location’ function to find restaurants near you or you can search for any food service establishment in the city with user-friendly filters. Once you have chosen a restaurant, Safe Eats will present its letter grade and total score along with detailed information from all health inspections including dates inspected and specific violations incurred. The app also provides you with the restaurant’s address, phone number, type of cuisine and even Yelp reviews.

Last week, my sister and I arrived at a local restaurant to eat dinner before noticing they had a B posted in the window. After examining their score and numerous violations on the Safe Eats app, I used the ‘Nearby’ function to find a suitable replacement. We chose a restaurant less than a block away with a low score and an A grade – not to mention excellent food. Success!

Not a New York City resident? You can still check the inspection report before you head out using this Eat Safe – Restaurant Health Inspections USA app for only $0.99. The app includes restaurant inspection scores for the majority of the United States, helping you decide where to eat wherever you are. You can also visit Food Safety News for more information about restaurant inspections in your area.

Bottom Line: Next time you’re deciding where to dine out, be aware of the letter grade posted at the restaurant of your choice or check out the Safe Eats or Eat Safe app to ensure that their food safety practices are up to your standards.

TELL ME: Would you eat at a restaurant with a B or C letter grade?

Carolyn Daman graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in Health and Exercise Science. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology degree and completing the dietetic internship at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. In September 2013, she plans on relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina to work as a clinical dietitian.

  • Greta
    Posted at 21:42h, 15 July Reply

    I’ve eaten at B’ and been fine- but I would definitely prefer to eat at As! Especially since there can be so many points added up and still have an A grade.

  • George Finnie
    Posted at 19:42h, 17 December Reply

    why we just can’t punch in address and get grading. MAN…..

Post A Reply to George Finnie Cancel Reply