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VALLEY FOCUS | Valleywide

Stricter Restaurant Grading Proposed

September 24, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said he wants the report card on restaurants expanded to include a "D" grade and eateries that receive a score of less than 70% to be closed.

Antonovich said he will propose the tougher standards for the county's restaurant grading system at the Board of Supervisors' Oct. 13 meeting.

"This system has led to confusion by the public, which expects to see a letter grade in every establishment," said Antonovich, noting that 38 of Los Angeles County's 88 cities have adopted the grading system.

Under current law, restaurants and other food establishments--supermarkets, delicatessens and convenience stores--that score less than 70%, the lowest score for a "C" grade, are required to post numerical scores.

"Any restaurant receiving less than 70% has an easy way out under the current ordinance," Antonovich said. "However, under my proposal, those restaurants will be forced to close their doors until they have at least a 70% compliance with health laws."

D. Kendall Edwards, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based California Restaurant Assn., said Antonovich's proposal "will help the public feel more comfortable with food safety issues."

Under current law, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has the power to shut down food facilities that score less than 60% three consecutive times or under specific circumstances, such as vermin infestation or insufficient hot water, said Sharon Wanglin, a department spokeswoman.

Establishments that don't meet the current minimum compliance are closed until owners fix the conditions posing a danger to public health, Wanglin said.

In December, the department shut down more than 280 restaurants and cafeterias in Los Angeles County. About 30 were in the Valley area.

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