EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSLETTER GRADING SYSTEM
from Eyewitness News Online
Letter Grading System For Restaurants Still Up In The Air
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jan. 9, 2012 10:51 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 10, 2012 1:32 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The debate continues in Kanawha County over the current way restaurants are being inspected.
The Kanawha Charleston Health Department has the same inspection report posting policy that it has since 2006. Some say it has major room for improvement, with the main goal being your family's health when eating out.
Literally putting the writing on the wall, that's what Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper is hoping the health board will decide to do.
"ABC is as simple as ABC," Carper says.
Carper has asked the board to implement a letter grading system for the county's restaurants, starting with "A" and ending with CLOSED.
"350,000 people get food poisoning a year in the United States. 5,000 people die from food poisoning," says Carper. It's a statistic the health board doesn't take lightly, and it's considering making changes to the way inspection results are posted. Some argue they're tough to find, and read when entering restaurants. Making the public seemingly unaware of what lurks behind the kitchen door.
"Generally when you're going to a restaurant, you're going to relax and have an interesting evening. You're not going to be a detective," says Kanawha County Engineer John Luoni. He serves on the committee, representing the county commission.
The board formed the subcommittee that met for the first time on Monday to decide if the letter grading system would work in the county.
"If the committee feels we need to do something better, all of it better, parts of it better...that's good," says Dr. Rahul Gupta.
But the change wouldn't come without disadvantages.
"If it's costing a significant amount, someone would have to be bearing that burden. Whether it's the taxpayers or the local businesses, that's something we also have to keep in mind," explains Dr. Gupta.
Carper says the system has worked well in places like New York, and North and South Carolina. Orange County California says it cost a little more than half of a million dollars the first year the system was in place. Reports suggests it makes a positive change in sanitary conditions.
"The scientific studies that I have seen have found a direct correlation to a decrease in food born illnesses," says Luoni.
"If you can't abide by the rules that the Health Board lays down, then, you know, it should be right out there for everybody to see," says Charleston resident Michael Shaffer.
The subcommittee will meet again in a few weeks.
Luoni says he hopes they can make a decision by March.
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