Critical conduct

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Dine safe: Orange County’s substandard system of food inspection should give customers an appetite for change.

It has been five years since an Orange County Grand Jury report recommended that the county adopt Los Angeles County’s ABC restaurant grading system, yet nothing has changed.

O.C.’s current health inspection system gives a pass/no pass grade and relies on a 24-hour closure as punishment rather than a more important factor: transparency.

Los Angeles restaurants receive a C for acceptable, B for good and an A for superior. Any restaurant scoring below 70 must immediately close and post the score number that they received from the health department.

This system has been responsible for a decrease in the number of reported food borne illness cases since its implementation in 1998, according to the report.

A restaurant receiving a B or C grade can bring about hesitancy in a consumer and gives eateries an incentive to uphold first-rate health and safety standards.

Orange County’s system lumps inspection levels together, leaving customers largely unaware of standards for which restaurants are held accountable.

In the past year nearly every small cafe and hipster diner in Downtown Santa Ana has received major or minor health violations, resulting in temporary closures from reasons ranging from “Lack of/Improper Handwashing/Handwashing Supplies” to “Evidence of Vermin Activity/Presence of Animals/Insects.” The current pass/no pass standards do not sufficiently hold restaurants accountable for their bad practices.

Until health inspections change, restaurants will never make the grade.

BEFORE YOU DINE OUT

Prior to dining, patrons could take steps to ensure a night of fun does not result in stomach illness the next day.

  1. Look on ocfoodinfo.com for all inspection reports of restaurants in your area.
  2. Check menus online to avoid any physical allergies or personal conflicts.
  3. Check the front door for when the last health inspection took place.
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FAILING GRADE: 2012 food inspections of many downtown Santa Ana restaurants have resulted in minor and major health code violations, including (from left to right) Memphis at the Santora, Chapter One: The Modern Local and The Gypsy Den.


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