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Newton Restaurants Will Soon Start Receiving Health Department Grades

Restaurants will soon required to post their grades, and info will be online, too.

Patch File Photo.
Patch File Photo.
Newton residents will soon be able to see how clean and how well restaurants meet the health codes. 

Newton's Health Department is developing a grading system where restaurants will display certificates showing how they did in their latest inspections, said Health Commissioner Dr. Dori Zaleznik. 

Along with the certificates in the eateries, residents will be able to look up a place on the City of Newton website and find the restaurant on a map to find the grade. 

The Grades

The grade is just for meeting health codes, Zaleznik said.

"It is not a mini-Zaggat rating, we are not commenting on the restaurant or the wait staff or taste of the food," Zaleznik said. 

Whether the grade is like a school - A, B, C, etc. - or some other system has not been determined yet. Some restaurants said it might be confused with the grade of food, such as meat, which also use letter grades, Zaleznik said.

The grades will probably start appearing in the fall of 2014. 

"Originally we were going to do a pilot this fall, but restaurants asked if they can have one inspection where they see the grade but don't have to post it," Zaleznik said. 

Each restaurant will get one inspection with the new system before they have to post the grade, she added.

FDA Grant

The pilot program was developed with the help of a grant from the FDA, which provides $70,000 a year for 5 years. 

Zaleznik said as far as she knows, Newton would be the first community in the state besides Boston to have a food health grading system. Similar systems have worked well in other parts of the country, she said.

In New York City, the first time around 65 percent of restaurants got the highest grade, and it rose to 75 percent the second time, she said. Newton's system is modeled after ones in Los Angeles, and her department also spoke with officials in Plano, Texas.

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