Klein releases NYC restaurant report

September 14, 2008 3:27:33 PM PDT
New York State Senator Jeff Klein released his annual list of New York City's dirtiest restaurants on Sunday.He made the announcement outside Del Posto Ristorante in the meatpacking district. The three-star restaurant was busted for dozens of violations in June, but has since cleaned up and is now up to code.

Klein created the report as a way to encourage the city to implement a new system that would grade restaurants on its cleanliness.

Del Posto Ristorante is part of celebrity chef Mario Batali's growing restaurant empire and has been accumulating critical accolades since its 2006 opening. Proving that even world-class kitchens cannot afford to scrimp on pest control and other food safety measures, Del Posto failed its June 17th health department inspection with two pest violations and food that was "spoiled, adulterated, contaminated or cross-contaminated."

In total, the restaurant received 44 violation points, well over the 28 point threshold for failure.

"It is inexcusable that the Department of Health does not have an adequate system in place to alert consumers to restaurants with failing sanitation records," Klein said. "The public has a right to know that the restaurant they're eating at may have more on the menu than tasty cuisine."

Klein also released his annual Dirty Dozen list of New York City's dirtiest restaurants based on sanitary inspection scores and citations for multiple pest problems.

In New York, food service establishments are inspected for public health hazards, critical violations and general violations. Public health hazards must be corrected at the time of the inspection, whereas critical violations and general violations are awarded point values according to the seriousness of the violation.

When all of the violations, critical and general, add up to more than 28 points, the restaurant is judged to have failed its inspection. Restaurants are inspected at least annually, but public complaints to the city's 311 hotline can trigger additional inspections.

Follow-up inspections follow failures to make sure that problems are corrected. Restaurants with the most hazardous conditions, or a series of failed inspections, are ordered closed by the DOH until they can pass an inspection and safely reopen.

Klein's report studied a subset of New York City's 20,000 restaurants with the 100 worst inspection reports, with violation point scores ranging from 69 to 600. Of the bottom 100 restaurants, 87 percent had at least one category of pest cited in their most recent inspection. Almost half, or 45 percent, of those restaurants had at least two categories of pests cited and 12 percent were cited for three separate categories of pest violations.

More than half, 59 percent, of the bottom 100, were allowed to remain open by the DOH despite their severe problems.

While New York City's restaurant inspection information is available online for the web-savvy consumer with time to do independent research, individual restaurants are not required to post any notice to their consumers. Believing that notice at the point of service is the best way to reach consumers, Klein authored a state law in 2000 requiring supermarkets and retail food stores to post a notice of the results of their most recent state sanitary inspection.

"Whether New Yorkers are dining out for a routine meal or to celebrate a special occasion, their only reservations should be to book a table," Klein said.

To see New York City's Dirty Dozen, CLICK HERE.

To see New York City's 12 best restaurants, CLICK HERE.

To read the full report, CLICK HERE.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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