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Letter Grading Tips and Checklists

Friday, August 29, 2014  
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The Letter Grade System enacted in 2010, mandates that each food service establishment maintain certain sanitary practices. Since its inception, food born illness has declined, the City has collected millions of dollars in fines, and 88% of NYC restaurants now have A’s.

With the help of Social media, the letter “A” has become synonymous with sanitary, anything other than an “A” is not. As public awareness spreads like wildfire, an overwhelming majority of diners now base their dining decisions solely on the letter grade in the window. However, what the average diner is not aware of, is how easy it is to receive a violation, and that the grade is derived from a scoring system that moves you into a “B” category if you receive 14 points out of a possible 1000.

Nevertheless perception has been established. Incidents of foodborne illness have declined, and establishments that were able to maintain an “A” had an increase in revenue. The Letter Grade System is here to stay. Achieving and maintaining the “A” in the window has become vital to a restaurants success.

My partner and I started Letter Grade Consulting to raise awareness and to help food service establishments operate at the highest level of food safety. We found that operating at that level will decrease cross contamination and can drive revenue. Our Company offers various programs based on the individual needs of our Clients, and the size of their establishments. Maintaining a violation free kitchen is our fundamental objective. We become part of your team by providing solutions, education, attorney tribunal representation, and assistance with permit compliance. We deliver all of the tools necessary to get and keep the “A” in the window.

The driving force behind our program is a commitment to be proactive. We strongly encourage operators not to wait for an inspection from the City to remedy what has already become a problem. Frequent mock inspections, and incorporating daily protocols will allow operators to alleviate potential violations, forego unnecessary fines, prevent foodborne illness, increase the bottom line and maintain the “A” letter grade .


The following is a list of Daily Protocols That EVERY Restaurant Operator Should Follow.
  • Keep the following logs:
    sweeping logs (at least 4 times a day)
    Check food temperature and keep logs (recommended at least every hour)

  • Check the following daily:
    ALL food for spoilage
    All equipment
    Check for signs of vermin

  • Chewed or damaged bags or boxes
    Holes around pipes
    Holes where floor/ceiling and walls connect
    Check for damaged cans
    Separate all dented, rusted, bent or damaged cans in a designated area.
    Have a sign that says, “DENTED CANS – DO NOT USE”. These cans must be returned or thrown out.

  • When preparing food, take out ONLY what you need
    This will make sure that food stays in proper temperature.

  • Refrigeration:
    Use Ice to cool cooked food before placing in the refrigerator
    Make sure not to overfill refrigerators:
    This will allow the refrigerator to work more efficiently so that energy costs will be lowered,
    It will also prevent hot pockets so that food cools properly.

  • Make sure to use thermometers – as often as possible.

  • NEVER use hand wash sinks for anything other than hand washing. Make sure to keep sinks properly stocked with the following:
    properly functioning hot/cold water
    single use napkins

  • Gloves must be worn and changed often

  • All workers that handle food MUST wear caps, nets, hats, or other hair coverings that fully cover the head and facial hair too.

  • Sanitation Buckets
    Proper mixture is one spoon of bleach and one gallon of water. (50 ppm)
    Always test after mixing and periodically during the day.
    Place ALL wiping clothes in buckets with sanitizing solution when not in use.

This article was submitted as part of our Industry Insider program. Learn more >>

Letter Grade ConsultingBy Rada Tarnovsky
Letter Grade Consulting, Brooklyn NY


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