Those Health Grades You See On New York Restaurants Have Been A Windfall For The City

Restaurants NYC grade A

Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images

NYC Department of Health revenue fines 5 years

Photo: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Mayor Michael Bloomberg struck gold to the tune of $10 million a year when he decided to implement the restaurant grading system in New York City.The system did so well in its first year, that the city willingly reduced its preliminary FY2012 Environmental Health budget presented last March by 2.6 per cent thanks to “increased revenue from restaurant inspections.”

Data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) shows that after Bloomberg implement the restaurant grading system the annual revenue increased from almost $33 million to more than $42 million. 

“The median fine amount so far this year is $660 per restaurant and a small percentage of restaurants pay the bulk of the fines,” DOHMH’s Chanel Caraway told us in an email. “Right now, two-thirds of all fines are levied against the worst performing 20 per cent of restaurants. The best performing restaurants -60 per cent- pay just eight per cent of all fines levied against restaurants.”

The failure to properly display the grade cards alone earned the city over a million dollars in fees, according a city report:

“As of the end of July, the Department had issued 943 violations to restaurants for failing to post their
required grade cards and another 123 violations to restaurants that were not posting the cards in the
required location. These violations carry recommended fines of up to $1,000 for the first offence and
as much as $2,000 for subsequent offenses.”

Not surprisingly restaurant owners hate the new system. The City Council found that 85 per cent of restaurant call the grading system “Poor” or “Fair,” reported Fred Mogul for WNYC.

“There seems to be a lack of fairness and an abundance of inconsistency throughout the food inspection process,” Speaker Christine Quinn said during a hearing on the grading system. “It really makes you ask yourself: is revenue generation the point here?”

Now check out the 30 dirtiest restaurants in Manhattan >

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