Boston could soon give restaurants and food trucks letter grades based on health inspections

A Manhattan restaurant rated with a Health Department "A" grade. –Mario Tama / Getty Images

Boston restaurants and food trucks may soon be asked to display a report card of cleanliness and food safety on their buildings for customers to see.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Wednesday that he has filed an ordinance to establish a restaurant and food truck letter grading system in order to inform customers about how a restaurant or food truck has fared in recent health inspections, according to a statement from his office.

“Boston’s restaurants play a strong role in fueling our local economy, and it is our job to ensure these establishments are adhering to all required codes to protect Boston’s residents and visitors,” Walsh said in the statement. “By creating a grading system, we are providing an extra layer of transparency and accountability for restaurants and consumers.”

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If the policy is passed, inspectors will translate violations into a numerical point system. Restaurants will be tested on three types of violations: foodborne critical, non-foodborne critical and non-critical, the statement said. Scores will then correlate with a letter grade, which will be displayed on an exterior wall for all 3,000 of the city’s eateries, officials said.

Restaurants who don’t earn a top grade of an “A”  will be reinspected within 30 days for a chance to improve their scores. If more than one re-inspection is requested, the owner must pay a fee.

“Food safety is every restaurant operators’ first priority,” Bob Luz, president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “A health inspection represents a single snapshot in time and there will need to be an educational component to the dining public in regards to this new system.”

Restaurant letter grades are already a law in effect in New York City. Currently all Boston restaurants and food trucks are inspected by the Inspectional Services Department twice per year, with additional inspections if a violation is recorded.

According to The Boston Globe, putting the system in place does not require City Council approval, but inspectional services does plan to present the plan to councilors and local restaurant industry leaders before launching a pilot program next year.

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