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Californians: How often do you check hygiene score before eating out?

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  • Fine Aug 9, 2009 03:57 PM
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I make it a practice to take advantage of the fact that most California counties fulfill their obligations to post restaurant inspection results by doing so online. This may be true in many other states--don't mean to slight anyone, just don't know.

I realize for many food nuts this is not a topic they wish to include in their selection process; however, for those of us with compromised and/or aging (or already aged) digestive systems, it can be an illness-preventer or even a life-saver.

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  1. I don't really do it. If a place has an A or B, I'll eat there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrfood16

      But that wokrs only for those places that post their grades in a prominent place! I know all LA restaurants seem to, but not necessarily so elsewere.

    2. Never. While I no longer believe that A=American, B=Better and C=Chinese, I trust my own senses to suggest to me whether the place got gigged for storing the vinegar near the detergent or for black mold in the walk-in. If a place seems a little dodgy an A will reassure me, but if it's all sparkly and smells good a C will not send me packing. And I don't bother looking until we get there, and usually not then.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Will Owen

        What you said. Good grief, we're Californians. Not the faint of heart :)

      2. If it ain't closed yet by "you know who" I ignore the rating and eat there.

        1. A good friend of mine refuses to eat in Chinese restaurants that have an "A" rating (LA County). He figures they spend too much time cleaning up, and not enough time on the food!

          1. As my always logical mother has pointed out to my neurotic grandparents, "how do you know the restaurant didn't get a low A? and another one might have a high B?" Not much difference in a 89% and a 90% from where I stand!

            1 Reply
            1. re: rds246

              I read the actual reports, which are often accessible online, and find what was tagged and determine for myself how serious a concern I think it is. The numerical grades, not just alphabetical ones, are included.

            2. it's really not much of an issue since the vast majority of places (thanks to the grading system) have As or Bs. i have no problem with eating at a B. and i rarely venture out to a place and arrive to find it has a C -- but if it looks like there's turnover and not sketchy, i'll eat there. i've never felt ill after a C meal. i have felt ill after an A meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: dtud

                For many years I ate primarily at hole-in-the-wall ethnic joints--that was my passion. Two changes occurred: I got older (and therefore my system inevitably became less able to deal with "assaults" it could have laughed off when I was younger), and bugs that used to cause no more than a day's upset evloved into far more dangerous critters.

                I suppose I could add that a lot more info became available on how cavalierly foods are handled--from our own meat processing to various Chinese adulterations +.

              2. Bourdain said that some of the best food around LA was at places in strip malls with a C rating.

                1. Remember that score is only a point in time. I've eaten great chow and some real dives or hole-in-the-walls, just because the ambiance is a little worn doesn't mean that the kitchen or the chow is the same.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cstr

                    I know of no health dept that grades on either ambiance or appearance, but rather on whether or not foods are kept at safe temps or soap, water, and towels are provided for employees to wash their hands.

                    1. re: Fine

                      exactly my point.

                      1. re: Fine

                        They also grade on whether cleaning agents and food are stored near each other, even if it's canned goods; whether someone is seen washing his hands in the dish sink or a cup in the prep sink; and heaven help you if any living mammal other than human ones are to be found on the premises. Now, I don't think the cook ought to bring his cat to work, but would YOUR kitchen pass the test? Okay, I'm not selling my food, but I certainly share it a lot, and my kitchen would be shut down instantly and permanently.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          You nailed it.

                          To answer the OP's question: I don't factor in grade. I will eat in a C-rated restaurant. Hey, C's get degrees in the UC system! ;-)

                          As cstr said, that grade reflects a mere slice in time, which may not be representative of the restaurant's overall quality.

                          And, as Will Owen pointed out, a restaurant can be dinged for conditions that wouldn't directly impact the digestibility of the food itself, or even be considered icky if folks knew the facts behind the grade.

                          I think there can be a false sense of comfort that people attach to high-end, well-graded restaurants. The only time I ever got gut-sick was at a very highly-regarded restaurant in the '80s. All the taco trucks, holes-in-the-wall, etc., since then have done me just fine. Luck of the draw? Perhaps.

                          1. re: LicketySplit

                            Or perhaps the places you've frequented played by the rules!

                            As for a "mere slice in time," safe food practices aren't supposed to be occasional, haphazard events.

                            My point is that diners can see exactly what the violations, if any, were and decide for themselves whether or not they find them alarming, if they're willing to take a moment to check the Health Dept site.

                            I once sat at a counter and watched a cook cut up raw poultry and ready-to-serve foods on the same board without even giving it a swipe with a rag--in a very famous and popular place. If this went on where the diner could watch ....

                            (Yes, of course I reported it.)

                            I knew this would hit a nerve with a lot of folks, but I don't see why: At least in San
                            Francisco we can look up any violations (and the restaurant's longterm history of any) on the SFHD's web site and decide for ourselves whether it sounds a bit too risky for our personal health profiles or those of folks we may be taking out to eat..

                            Please remember that what may not cause much if any problem to a healthy young or middle-aged person can wreak havoc with kids, the immune-impaired, and older folks.