What's behind that restaurant's health score | News
Despite reporting Mid-South restaurants' health inspection scores every Thursday on Andy's Restaurant Scorecard, I continue to meet viewers who don't know restaurants are required to post those scores, whether it's Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas.
Establishments must post those scores someplace where customers can see them: the entrance, cash register, bar, etc.
If they don't, it's a health code violation.
Mississippi's health department uses a letter-grade system: A, B, C. No failures. They are white reports with large, green grades. Restaurants typically frame them for public inspection.
The restaurant inspectors of the Arkansas Department of Health don't employ a grading system at all. They just list the violations.
Tennessee's health department environmentalists use a grading system a lot like you remember from school. Anything below 70 is a failure. 100 is a perfect inspection. The reports are yellow with "MEMPHIS AND SHELBY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT ENVIRONMENTAL SANITATION" at the top. The score is written in the lower right-hand corner, and each violation is spelled out with its corresponding points.
Critical violations -- food temperatures, employee hygiene, sanitation, sewage/waste water and insects -- can dock four to five points off an establishment's score. Non-critical violations can cost one to two points.
Even if a restaurant does not fail its health inspection, it may receive what's called a food permit suspension notice, or PSN. Environmentalists will issue a PSN if a restaurant has racked up significant critical violations. The notice orders the restaurant's personnel to correct the violations within 10 days and to anticipate another surprise inspection within 10 to 25 days.
"Failure to correct the noted critical violations may result in closure of the establishment until all noted critical violations are corrected," says the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department's PSN.
Now here's the thing that rubs restaurant managers and owners the wrong way.
If an inspector comes back, and the establishment has corrected every critical violation except one, the restaurant does not earn any of those points back, including the ones for the violations it has corrected. That's another measure designed to hold violating restaurants accountable.