Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hygiene grade cards for restaurants

We have long been covering the case for hygiene grade cards for restaurants. These grades are a great example of market-oriented information solutions to food safety problems. Part of the appeal is that this information is already generated by local inspectors, so there is no new bureaucracy or work in information generation. All one needs to do is get the information from inspection reports to consumers, so they can defend their own interests in the marketplace. Choices Magazine had a good article on this approach in 2005.

Last month, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released the results of many months of hard work, requesting information from local inspection offices. The most entertaining passage gives one local agency's explanation for its inability to respond to the advocacy group's request for information:
In one city, a health department employee informed CSPI that there were simply not enough employees in the office to catalog the inspection reports: thousands of reports thus sat untouched in unorganized boxes.

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