A posted letter grade. A colored placard. A numeric inspection score. The weekly Dirty Dozen on the local news. Each intends to intervene—to prompt restaurant operators to manage their kitchens within the confines of known safe food handling practices. In turn, they work to avoid critical violations, a subpar grade on the window, and the resulting loss of customers and revenue.
This often-debated topic draws strong opinions from consumers, restaurateurs, and health inspectors. Is this intervention more effective than any other? Its critics say it is imprecise: the score only captures a moment in time, a virtual click of the camera’s shutter. Its advocates say it’s the quickest and most effective way to achieve compliance.