Frustration over restaurant grading system delays in King County

Heather Graf reports.

Several recent E. Coli outbreaks are fueling the frustration of an E. Coli victim who has spent years trying to get a restaurant grading system in King County.
For Sarah Schacht, the issue of publicly displayed restaurant inspection grades is quite personal.  Her family got sick during the 1993 E. Coli outbreak at Jack In The Box.  Then, she had a second run-in with E. Coli after eating at a Seattle restaurant in 2013.
Not long after that, Schacht started an online petition asking for 'Scores On Doors' in King County restaurants.  The petition quickly got more than two thousand signatures, and caught the attention of King County Public Health.
"It did get their attention.  And they said okay we are going to commit to posted restaurant inspection scores," Schacht recalls.  "There was a long stakeholder process and even longer amounts of study or radio silence where deadlines kept getting pushed back."
Schacht says the delays have been incredible frustrating.
"I understand the value of some of the work King County is doing, but it seems like they're not putting enough resources towards it, and we keep seeing outbreaks," she said.
A spokesperson for King County Public Health told KING 5 it has been a slow process, because King County wants to make sure it gets the restaurant grading system right.
She said they've provided updates  throughout the process and hope to roll out a pilot program in January of 2017.
The goal is to develop a restaurant grading system that is both fair and effective.  In order to do so, King County public health officials first spent time researching what other jurisdictions do, so that they could identify areas for improvement as King County developed its own methodology.
In the meantime, the health department posts inspection reports for restaurants throughout Seattle and King County on its website, and suggests diners use that as a resource to check out any restaurant they may be concerned about.

Schacht says she'd love to see the pilot program launched in January of 2017, but right now she is preparing herself for another disappointing delay.

She says her research shows that publicly displayed restaurant grading systems can make a real difference.

"Other cities that have implemented restaurant inspection scores, often called placards, saw between a 13 to 30 percent total decrease in foodborne illness rates within two years of posting placards," she said.  "So it's a big impact to have consumers more informed and educated."


Copyright 2016 KING


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