When you walk past a restaurant in Seattle, you’re most likely not aware of the health and safety standards inside. But Seattle and King County Public Health is currently cooking up a plan to change that with a new rating system, which may include signs on restaurant windows.
Picture a report card with an A through F letter grade — that’s the most common way other cities have designed these window displays. The grade measures how well the venue meets health code standards like employees washing their hands or storing food properly.
While officials explore a similar grading system, food safety manager Mark Rowe said they want a rating symbol that translates across cultures.
“In different parts of world, smiley faces are also used,” Rowe said. “So while it sounds funny, it also does portray something that’s really understandable to people.”
He said the symbol would be based on an overall trend at the restaurant, not just recent inspections.
Rowe warns the project is still at an early stage. His group just presented this recommendation to the county Board of Health on Thursday, along with other ways to modernize restaurant inspections.
Domingo Ramos, co-owner of Morsel in Seattle’s University District, said he’d welcome the heath rating, but in some form over others.
“I like the grade system. I think it’s very straightforward. The smiley face – I think people might be confused about,” Ramos said. Other nearby restaurants also endorsed the window ratings.
While diners can already find health inspection details online, Rowe says the goal is to make that easier.
He said a mobile app is also under consideration as one of the items on the modernization checklist, but there’s no word yet on when it will be available for consumers.