Baltimore City Councilman Brandon M. Scott introduced a new bill requiring the Baltimore City Health Department to post grades for local food service facilities on Aug. 13. The bill would mandate food facilities like restaurants, carry-outs, bars and food trucks to post their inspection letter grade in a visible area for customers.

Food service facilities in major cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas have already adopted a similar grading system. The bill would also require the Baltimore City Health Department to post the grades online.

“It’s about transparency and the next step in pushing public health,” Scott told the AFRO. “Our health department is at the forefront of the fight to end food deserts…. People need to know that the restaurants in their areas are up to code.”

Depending on the type of food establishment, local facilities are inspected by the department a few times a year. High-risk food establishments are inspected every four months and medium to low risk every six months.

Mary Beth Haller, assistant commissioner of environmental health, said the grading system will be based on the current system of critical and non-critical violations.

“Essentially we have some violations that are more dangerous than others like it is very important for food stored to be kept at a certain temperature,” said Haller. A point-scale has not been developed yet that would determine if a facility would receive an A, B, C or etc.

“Since everyone understands what an A is, for the restaurant owner there is a real incentive for owners to keep an A facility,” said Haller. “It will make restaurant owners more cognizant. It’s going to be a real incentive.”

Currently the health department monthly posts the names of restaurants which have been shut down for not meeting their code standards on their website. Residents can log onto the site around the 15th of every month to receive updates. Haller explained that implementing the new online regulations would be a relatively smooth transition since the department is already working on a new online system.

Casey Jenkins, owner and executive chief of Darker than Blue, a southern food restaurant located on Greenmount Ave., said he is in favor of the new legislation.

“With this movement towards social media like Facebook and Instagram and other sites, people are looking for more transparency,” said Jenkins. “We’re an information society these days. People want to be able to know where they are eating. They want to know who their chefs are. People want to know what their chefs do.”

Jenkins said while he does not believe the legislation will help to boost the sales of any restaurants that receive good grades, he does worry about some of the mom-n-pop shops and carry out locations being affected if they receive an adverse score.

Krishana Davis

AFRO Staff Writers