The Water Cooler – Restaurant Health Inspection Scores in Contra Costa County

November 28, 2012 12:00 pm · 47 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Do you think restaurants in Contra Costa County should receive a letter grade or a score according to their health inspection record, and be required to display that grade or score in a visible location inside their business?

Talk about it….

1 Reality Says... November 28, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Yes. They do it many other states, and in SoCal. I don’t eat at any place other then a A rating.

2 Jim November 28, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Let big brother save us all!

3 J. November 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Yes, a letter score

4 Parsnip November 28, 2012 at 12:18 PM

People become oblivious to postings, and postings probably wouldn’t be updated. I don’t know if it would be that worthwhile. BUT, to keep in mind that the information is retrievable would be good. (And that one in Concord that I thought was so great is off my list!).

5 BagsFlyFree November 28, 2012 at 12:24 PM

I say Yes… This is another way to promote a business, and let those who aren’t trying to be the best move aside for new businesses.. Getting people sick is no funny business.

BFF Out!

6 BlueJay November 28, 2012 at 12:39 PM

I agree with Jim, no government. Let the restaurants be as dirty as they want. Who gives a crap about public health!

But seriously, Yes, Yes and Yes again.

7 The Real McCoy November 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Oh look, more liberals wanting to dictate every aspect of our life. I say let the market decide, if a restaurant kills its customers it will be out of business soon enough. Abolish the Health Department and put their jackbooted thug employees out on the street where they belong!

8 ms.v November 28, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Yes. I watch those ” save the restaurant ” shows. They show just how nasty a kitchen can get. The sludge that comes from an unclean ice machine is unbelievable. So…even your drinks are not necessarily clean. I want to know inspection results.

9 Rob November 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM

You mean – when a business gets a health inspection rating should customers be made aware of it at the time they are thinking of entering the business to eat?

Sounds good to me – perhaps it will spur restaurants to stay ship shape…

10 TinFoiler November 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM

NO. The sheep do not want to know if their food is Genetically Modified (GMO) so why would they care if there’s poop, excuse me E-COLI in it.

11 inmotion November 28, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Yes, it gives the customer piece of mind, and holds restaurants responsible for the roaches.

12 TOB November 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

My buddy is the top dog County Health Inspections. He told me years ago if you only knew you would never eat out. Worst of any are Chinese restaurants. I just looked up several and pretty nasty write ups using Parsnip link.

I think public grading and posting would help them clean up act. If out of sight it’s out of mind so going to internet to research not effective way to deter business and FORCE compliance. Public grading like in NY would turn things around quicker. As is nobody has passing grade. Shows current system isn’t working.

Trick to using Parsnips link. Need exact info so just use name and city. If street, you’ll need to be specific Road vs. Rd or no hits.

13 I think so.... November 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Yeah i think they should… because i would like to know how clean the place is im eating at… and it would probably keep them in good condition..

14 Cowellian November 28, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Checking on a food service facility isn’t difficult. The Mayor has a link to Contra Costa County’s inspections on the right column of the page:

CLAYCORD Restaurant Inspection

Just remember, don’t ask questions that you don’t want the answers to.

15 joe November 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

FYI you have a right to see the latest inspection report when entering a restaurant. In CCC it is your right to request to see the most current inspection. To me that is more valuable than a letter grade. For example did a restaurant get dinged because there was no soap in the men’s room or was it dinged because of improper storage of dairy?

16 Anon November 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

@ 2
Why not let big brother do something useful for the first time in history?

17 The Family Dog November 28, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Hey, Mr McCoy, using your logic we should abolish the FDA and let everyone make prescription drugs in their bathtubs and sell them as curealls…so if a bunch of people die, what the hell, the market will eventually weed out the bad players.

This “markets will solve all problems” mentality is sophmoric libertarianism gone wild.

If you grow food you are regulated and inspected, if you process food you are regulated and inspected, if you cook and sell food, you should be regulated and inspected because thats where most cases of food borne illnesses occur.

If you want to live in a society with no regulations on food or drugs, I recommend Pakistan, where just last week a bunch of people died after being given tainted flu medications.

18 Elwood November 28, 2012 at 1:56 PM



19 Izzy Slapowitz November 28, 2012 at 2:02 PM

I think this would be great idea! but then again I think Cowellian is right! I don’t want to know!

20 Shoppermom November 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Yes, as long as they keep them current. I heard awhile ago that the health department was unable to inspect all the restaurants in a timely manner because they were short staffed. Is that still the case?

21 RanchgirlCA November 28, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Good luck finding a restaurant that isn’t on the list for something. Eating out is always at your own risk and even eating at home. Everytime you turn around there’s something on the news about some food being recalled and making people sick. If I don’t like the looks of a place, I walk out. Make me sick once, I’m done.

22 Disgusted November 28, 2012 at 2:21 PM

One night oh so long ago there was a pizza place that we had gone to. It was late in the day, we were the last customers (went after soccer game). We were trying to hurry even though there was still time before they actually closed. The employees started cleaning but were very hesitant. I watched the employee go into the bathroom with the mop. Then she proceeded to take her time and was moving very slow. While we were walking out I turned and saw her shove the same mop into the pizza ovens!! I about puked right there. First I thanked my stars we were there at the very end of the day and the ovens had to surely have killed anything that was prior. I went home and made a call. Needless to say, that week I saw a closed sign on the place. They stated they were “remodeling”. I found out that there were SEVERAL health code violations. The place has since closed their doors for good and I am glad. With lack of concern like that, they shouldn’t be serving the public!! So yes, I would like to see the ratings for those times I actually do venture out into a restaurant nowadays.

23 Absolutely! November 28, 2012 at 2:22 PM

They should be inspected without notice and print out the letter grade to be posted right then and there. Ever watch Gordon Ramsey on Kitchen Nightmares? Some of those places are a hot mess with the worst back areas ever. I would want to know if that’s lurking where I eat.

24 Reality Check November 28, 2012 at 2:23 PM

For all those who think this is some kind of issue to joke about or sluff off, how would you like to come down with hepatitis that your doctor tells you most likely came from an infected restaurant worker? Hell yes, I want these places inspected and made accountable.

Real McCoy (#7) – was that a serious comment or a joke? You think the restaurant owners who only care about the bottom line are going to self-police their kitchens for hygiene? That the way to weed these places out is for people to die off? How many people in your weird “hands-off” world would have to suffer before a place went out of business? In my case, I didn’t die, but if I had had a preexisting health condition and got restaurant hepatitis, I could have. Thank god I was young and healthy enough to fight it off. As it was, I lost so much weight I looked like a concentration camp victim for awhile. Even now I can’t donate blood because I once had the disease.

Hell yes, post this stuff for the public to see and have the health dept. make surprise visits.

25 yetti November 28, 2012 at 2:27 PM

i ran a Restaurant for 6 years and not once did a health inspector look into my ice machine.. they just took a quick look around and that was that..

26 Definitely November 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM

I think a letter grade should be displayed for every restaurant. Nothing worse than food poisoning.

27 Palermo November 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Yes! I never had food poisoning in my life and since we moved to the Bay Area I’ve gotten it three times! I went out and got myself a Hepatitis A vaccine since then, maybe that will do some good

28 debbiedo November 28, 2012 at 3:08 PM

if they are doing everything right they would have nothing to worry about show us your grade!!

29 sillyfilly454 November 28, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Years ago I was in a residential recovery program. We had regular (unscheduled & unannounced) monthly visits from the state and I can tell you- the inspections by these guys are no joke! They would come in and literally check, test & re-test, inspect, disect and challenge everything imaginable from sanitation to disinfecting & sterilization to proper food storage and disposal. No foods could sit out uncovered or unprotected. NOTHING could remain in the fridge for longer than 48 hours. They tested the individual temperatures of both fridge and freezer – as well as the degree of the hot water coming from the faucet. Cross-contamination was a big no no. They would inspect garbage cans and test our sponges, our mops, and the cleaning stuff we used TO CLEAN stuff WITH. Everyone held their breath until they were gone because not 2, not 3- but ONE violation could shut the place down. If restaurants were mandated to maintain the same standards, regulations & requirements as those- we would have nothing to worry or be concerned about.

30 Parsnip November 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM

@yetti — #25

On the other hand, patrons can *report* a restaurateur over anything they consider dirty. That’s when field investigators would be inspired to check everything.

I never noticed the Food Facility Inspection Search link attached to this blog. Considering the violations cited with restaurants I think I will check prior to going …

31 Screwy Louie November 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Letter grades work great in L.A.
It makes it easy to decide without having to get out of the car.
Seems to raise the bar for the other restaurant’s to either keep up, or close up.
Everyone benefits.

32 anon November 28, 2012 at 3:59 PM

I would like to see it. I’d like to know what if any violations were found. The only thing is I don’t believe that all eating establishments are being inspected on a regular basis due to the County’s budget.

33 Cowellian November 28, 2012 at 4:32 PM

The inspections are funded by a licensing fee paid by the facilities.

34 debdvo November 28, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Gov’t, liberals blah blah blah…They will still be inspected by the same agency as before, it just lets the public know, in the most convenient way, what the results are. I would think that the only ones that might have a problem w/ that would be the dirty restaurants. I say YES, YES,YES!!!!! I’ve passed up a lot of unfamiliar restaurants that I might’ve tried had I seen a good grade in the window. It will be good for the good, clean, safe restaurants and it will make the yucky ones strive for better.

35 Parsnip November 28, 2012 at 4:49 PM
36 JoRo2 November 28, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Here we go. In NY the price of an A score only increase the cost of the meal which is in proportion to the bribe paid the inspector for a high score. Same would happen here.

37 Slugga November 28, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Yes, the government should actually do things that are beneficial to people’s lives. What happens in the kitchen of a restaurant would be information asymmetry and an example of market failure that could have real consequences.

38 Anon November 28, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Yes! And post photos of the icky findings at the restaurants who fail to earn a B or higher.

39 Walnut Creek Resident November 28, 2012 at 7:18 PM

Yes.. I was eating and seated about a year ago at FRESH CHOICE in Walnut Creek.. What a mess,, everything there is filthy and falling apart. It used to be great. There was a rat below the tables running around eating then stuff on the floor. There were people at that same table unaware of the rat. I let them know and the workers were trying to catch the nasty old rat with a broom and a garbage bag. Then people saw what they were trying to catch. One man was furious and walked out mad as a hornet. I was sick too because the whole place is not at all like it was about seven years ago. It is terrible and needs to have an inspection of some kind by a great government agency that our hard earned TAX DOLLARS ARE PAYING FOR!!! Liberal schmideral… has nothing to do with this.. It was a conservative dirty rat I say.. let the liberals take over!!!

40 In the biz for 18 years November 28, 2012 at 7:18 PM

No. No no no no no no no no………

Inspection reports are currently available online. They are very misleading because they site the code violation and not the inspectors handwritten notes, so they don’t reflect what is really going on. Even the cleanest kitchens get horrific sounding reports. Its all crap.

If you really want to know about a restaurant, ask a commercial refrigeration repairman or other service tradesman. They see what’s really happening. They almost all tell you there’s only one Chinese restaurant they will eat in. The rest – No chance in hell. LOL

Plus, I’ve been around long enough to have some frank conversations with inspectors. They will ALWAYS write violations because they have to justify the visit. That’s just the way it works. It doesn’t matter WHO you are. You will get written up for something.

I also know for certain about an inspector on the take ! Giving them even more power is a huge mistake.

Plus, since it’s more work for them, I don’t think they want the hassle.

This is a bad idea. Go to Yelp. Take the reviews with a grain of salt. Go out to dinner !

41 J. November 28, 2012 at 7:44 PM

” … in the biz for 18 years … ” so that makes you what? About 33 years old?

42 Bubba November 28, 2012 at 8:46 PM

I like to eat at Chinese food places next to the dog and cat hospitals.

43 @41 November 28, 2012 at 9:33 PM

That makes me know what I’m talking about. Whats you’re beef? You Chinese? And what’s “J” stand for ? Jack wagon?

44 Ancient Mariner November 28, 2012 at 9:36 PM

I once saw a photo of a restaurant window (not around here) with the mandatory inspection letter posted prominently. It was a ‘B’. The owner had to leave the incriminating placard there, but he cleverly surrounded it with other sighs reading “C O L D ‘ ‘ E E R”. From a distance it just attracted customers!

45 Sunshine November 28, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Yes Bubba, totally disgusting.

46 Mac November 29, 2012 at 8:27 AM

I think a letter grade should be mounted clearly at the front window/door.
So everyone would know the rating for each business.

The ones with A`s would be proud to show it off.
And the ones with C`s or worse, would know they better raise it up, or customers will no longer be using their place.

Nothing wrong will showing the people who work correctly.
Along with the people who don`t.

This is one of the main reasons i cook 90% of my food at home.
Not into a lot of hands touching my food. (trying to limit that to as low as possible)

47 uh huh December 1, 2012 at 9:13 PM

It is really hard to give a “letter” grade. EVERY Health Inspector checks things differently. I work in an industry where we get surprise inspections and we have had different inspectors ding us for different things, Such as, We have some seperated tiles on the floor, in no way do they affect the food nor the people serving it, However we have had inspectors that didnt say a word about them. It just depends on the inspector.

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