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RAMW Opposes Health Inspection Grade Posting Legislation

February 2, 2011

January 21, 2011

Candice Siegel
Communications Director

Legislation was introduced in the Council of the District of Columbia which would revamp the current health inspection regulations for restaurants in Washington, DC. RAMW is opposed to this legislation – as we were when a version was introduced in 2009; that bill died in committee, as this one should.

This legislation mandates a simplistic letter grading system with the grade posted in the restaurant’s front window. The process of health inspections is a one-day snapshot that may or may not reflect the restaurant’s record of compliance with health regulations and does not truly reflect the risk of the establishment to the consumer. Without a significant infusion of funding to the DC Department of Health and additional inspection staff, it is highly unlikely that re-inspections will be done in a timely manner. The loser in this all too likely scenario is the restaurant…there are no winners.

The current food code regulations contain provisions for commending restaurants that consistently perform well in inspections – a positive reinforcement tool that any educator will tell you is more powerful thanthe threat of negative consequences such as is proposed by this legislation. Unfortunately, the commendation provisions which have been in place for many years are not used. Rather than simply having the Health Department follow its current regulations by implementing the commendation provisions, another layer of regulation is being proposed.

Also, current regulations provide for the posting of inspections online which gives the consumer a number of reports to gauge the record of performance of the establishment which is the much more realistic and fair reportage rather than letter grading. Last summer the DC Departmentof Health began posting the past three years of reports and will continue with a new digital system that gives consumers the information they need in an accessible form.

About RAMW
Established in 1920, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s vision was to unite restaurateurs and food service industryprofessionals of the Washington area. Today, RAMW has more than 700 members in Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland.  RAMW, a trade association, serves as the voice of establishments ranging from casual eateries to internationally acclaimed fine dining restaurants. For over 90 years RAMW has been "fighting for the right to eat, drink and be merry, hospitably, responsibly and profitably®."

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