CALIFORNIA: How clean are Fresno County restaurants, and why is it so hard to find?
Posted: March 26th, 2012 - 2:02pm
Source: Fresno Bee
Walk into any Los Angeles restaurant and you're likely to see a card in the window with a letter grade for its most recent health inspection.
In Sacramento, you can find a green, yellow or red sign with the same kind of information.
In Fresno County, you'll see nothing of the sort.
To find out how a restaurant in this county did on its most recent inspection, you have to screw up your courage and ask its staff for a copy. Or you can go to a little-publicized county website several weeks later and look it up.
It's easier elsewhere.
Los Angeles County began issuing letter grades and requiring restaurants to post them in 1998.
Over the next three years, hospitalizations for food-borne illnesses declined 20%, a subsequent academic study reported. Restaurants got higher average inspection scores after their grades were posted. Restaurants with the highest scores got more business on average.
Sacramento's program began five years ago and boasts of similar success, as well as support from local restaurateurs.
Despite those possible benefits, Fresno County health officials continue to resist the idea of posting inspection results on-site. Local restaurant owners are hesitant as well, an industry spokeswoman says.
"It's something that our members have not been in favor of," said Amalia Chamorro, director of local government affairs in Fresno for the California Restaurant Association.
More than 15,000 food facility inspections were conducted last year by Fresno County's division of environmental health.
Its 22 inspectors try to inspect restaurants four times per year (Sacramento and Los Angeles counties do three inspections per year) and bars twice per year.