We all love to eat out, but when you sit down for that meal do you ever wonder if it's safe to eat? Or if it's been prepared in a clean environment? "If food isn't being stored at the right temperatures the first thing I think about is, Oh my God, I'm going to get food poisoning, or I'm going to get sick from it or anything like that,"says Columbus resident, Candace Buckner.
Christy Kuriatnyk is local Health Inspector. She and her team of about 7 inspectors travel from restaurant to restaurant checking everything from food temperatures to bathroom cleanliness. "They just pop in, they surprise you. You never have time to get ready, because you have to be ready everyday,"says Chick-Fil-A Owner and Operator Daniel Grier. That readiness earned Grier's business a perfect score of 100. His restaurant wasn't the only one earning top score. Locos on 13th street also scored a hundred. "It tells the customers that we take great pride in preparing our food and keeping it at the proper temperature, so that they get quality food when they come in here,"says Locos Manager Heather Harris.
But not every restaurant earns a perfect score. Take a look at how the grading system is rated. 90-to-100 equals an "A" 80-to-89 is a "B" 70-to-79 a "C" And a 69 or less is considered a "U" which means unsatisfactory.
Restaurants that score a 69 or lower are not fined, instead they're given 10 days to comply. If they don't, further action can be taken. "What we can do is continue with our enforcement act. If they're not in compliance, which can mean they could come to a board hearing or we could follow-up through the legal system,"says Health Inspector, Christy Kuriatnyk. Just because a restaurant scores in the 80's or 70's doesn't necessarily mean they're unclean. Inspectors could find problems with lighting or plumbing, which can lower a final grade. But food remains their top priority. "Our main focus is on food safety, so we're going to look at food as it flows thru the restaurants from the door, when it's received in the back, to when it's served to the customer out front,"says Kuriatnyk.
Restaurants are inspected once every quarter or every 3 months. Just because a business earns a score of hundred in one quarter, doesn't guarantee they'll do as well during the next inspection. Keeping restaurants up to standards is a constant process with no room for mistakes. "We have to start out clean and keep it that way, mainly it's being consistent everyday with a cleaning program. Just monitoring the temperatures and time, just making it the forefront of what we do,"says Grier.
Beginning December 1st, restaurant inspections will become stricter. At least 80 new regulations will be put in place. Another change to expect is a letter grade alongside the number grade on ratings charts displayed at restaurants.
Three of the top scoring restaurants this quarter were American Deli on Auburn Avenue. It earned a 100. So did Bourbon Street Cafe on Manchester Expressway, and Burger King on Victory Drive.
Three restaurants that scored the lowest this quarter were Glory Days Sports Bar and Grill on St. Mary's Road. It earned a 78.
Brito's Taqueria on South Lumpkin Road also earned a 78. And Popeye's on River Road earned a 77.