Over the past two weeks, more than 1,000 restaurateurs have provided feedback on the City’s food safety inspection process and new letter grading system.

Council urges city restaurateurs to complete survey before it closes on January 31st.

New York, NY – The City Council has received over 1,000 restaurant inspection survey responses since Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo unveiled the questionnaire on January 10th. The easy accessibility of the survey, available in seven different languages through the Council website action center, www.council.nyc.gov/html/action_center/action_center.shtml has fostered responses from a diverse spectrum of restaurants across the city. The survey will close on January 31st, allowing time for survey analysis prior to an oversight hearing. At the hearing, the Council intends to use the survey results to help further explore the inspection process and possible areas for reform.

“I’m thrilled with the response so far, but we want to hear from even more restaurateurs – big and small, in every neighborhood, in every borough,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “We’re asking restaurant owners and operators to give us as much information and real data as possible to serve as the foundation for our hearing. This survey gives an important group of New Yorkers – restaurant owners – their say in a system that regulates them.”

The survey is available in seven languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian and Haitian Creole. The two-part survey requests information ranging from historical inspection data to adjudication in administrative tribunals to expenses accrued in connection with the cost of fines, consultants and improvements, and solicits viewpoints on the letter grading system. Survey participants are encouraged to answer as many questions as possible.

“I am happy to see the level of response by restaurant owners to the survey. I look forward to the results and believe the feedback will enable us to ensure the DOH inspection process is fair and effective,” said Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

“It is important, especially in these times of economic insecurity, that the City is doing its job effectively and without undue burden,” said Small Business Chair Diana Reyna. “Our restaurants, the vast majority of which categorize as a ‘small business,’ should be held to a sensible food inspection process. Essential to this task is gathering feedback on our current regulatory practices.”

“The tremendous response to the Council’s online restaurant survey is indicative of the myriad of opinions restaurateurs have about the new grading system,” said Governmental Operations Chair Gale A. Brewer. “I encourage all of the city’s restaurant operators to fill out the survey, and share your opinion about how best to improve the grading process.”

“So far, this online survey seems to be yielding a strong response from New York’s restaurateurs, which is great. This is the kind of engagement we need from the public on issues that affect daily life in our city. Based on this early result, I think we can expect a robust oversight hearing in the near future,” said Oversight and Investigations Chair Jumaane Williams.

In July 2010, DOHMH began requiring food service establishments to post letter grades corresponding with scores reflecting sanitary inspections during which restaurants receive points for violations. An inspection score of 0-13 violation points is an A, 14-27 violation points is a B, and 28 or more violation points is a C. Grade cards are meant to be clearly visible to the public.