Why Are NYC Restaurants Afraid of Safety?

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I've been out of town, so I missed the New York City Health Department's grades for restaurant safety. The agency has a website where you can look these up.

The first restaurant to get an A was happy about it, as you might expect.

All the others are worried that customers won't go to places that get less than A grades. But isn't that the point? The grades ought to act as an incentive for restaurants to clean up their safety acts.

Los Angeles has been doing this for ages. It's reassuring to see the A on the door.

My personal test for whether a restaurant is likely to be paying attention to safety: hand washing. I am always reassured to see restaurant restrooms with (1) hot water, (2) soap, and (3) towels. With those, it's easier for employees to wash their hands, so they are more likely to do so.

I'm always amazed at how many restaurants do not have all three. Check out the restrooms and see for yourself?

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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