Drum roll! And the winner is… Option C!

Learn more about the different parts of Public Health’s new restaurant window sign.

Look for new food safety ratings in restaurant windows!

Starting today, January 17th, restaurants will begin receiving their new food safety rating and window sign as they are routinely inspected. You may not see window signs in your neighborhood restaurant right away since restaurants will be rolled into the new system in four phases throughout 2017. Restaurants in King County are inspected on average 1-3 times per year, so some restaurants will not be inspected and get their window signs until later in 2017. Phase one of the roll out will begin today in restaurants in Seattle (north of I-90), Shoreline, and Lake Forest Park.

Community feedback helped improve the sign design

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback in community meetings, interviews and via our online survey (we received over 3,800 responses!). We reviewed all of the results and listened to your feedback. Overwhelmingly option C was favored. We made a few tweaks based on feedback we received to bring you a window sign that shows food safety information in a way that is easy for everyone to understand.

Learn more about how your feedback made a difference in the final sign design.

Your feedback helped to inform changes we made to finalize the restaurant window sign. Our talented graphic designer created many drafts and we tested them in community meetings to make sure we had it right!

For example, when we first started the design process, the lowest food safety rating was conveyed by a frowning emoji that was colored red. Community feedback told us that the red color and frown gave the impression that a restaurant is too much of a poor food safety performer. We heard from people that if a restaurant was performing that badly they should be closed. And that is exactly right! A poorly performing restaurant is closed, so they don’t even have a sign. In contrast, restaurants who receive the “Needs to Improve” rating have met the minimum food safety standards to be open. To make this clear, we used an emoji with a straight line for the Needs to Improve category.

We hope you check out our new restaurant window signs as they pop up around King County, and we can’t wait to hear what you think!

Originally posted on January 17, 2017

4 thoughts on “Drum roll! And the winner is… Option C!

  1. I’d hate to be the restaurant that had problems 4 years ago and got many citations, the cleaned up my act and have been perfect for the last 2 or 3 years.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment.

      In the new Food Safety Rating System, a restaurant’s rating is based on an average of red critical violations from their last four routine inspections. Restaurants receive their rating after they are routinely inspected, the Food Inspector uses the inspection results from that day’s inspection and the previous 3 most recent routine inspections. Restaurants in King County are inspected on average 1 to 3 times per year, therefore it is very unlikely that the situation you describe would occur. Using four inspections to determine a restaurant’s rating reflects how well a restaurant has performed over time, not just on a snap shot of one inspection.

  2. Sorting this out by zip code is absurd. It should be rated on absolute scores. As a consumer, not a restaurateur, If restaurants in one zip are generally worse, the best of the bad shouldn’t get a smile, and a restaurant in a different neighborhood with generally better ratings gets a frown with the same score.

    This is not only unfair to business owners, it’s unfair to patrons.

    1. Hi, thanks for your feedback.

      We have decided to “rate on a curve” to provide the fairest, most accurate system possible. If you want to know more about the research behind this decision, please read our latest Public Health Insider blog post here: https://publichealthinsider.com/2017/01/22/food-safety-rating-on-a-curve-how-its-done-and-why-it-matters/

      This post details why rating on a curve is important – for consumers and restaurants – and how the calculations are reached.

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