New Research Brief Examines Food Establishment Inspection and Grading Systems

Study of Retail Food Establishment Inspection and Grading Systems is a new research brief by NACCHO that examines the various ways local health departments (LHDs) use scores or grades to convey the results of retail food establishment inspections. The report, supported by a 2012 cooperative agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), analyzes data obtained through an LHD survey in order to assess the:

  • Presence of any scoring or grading system;
  • Type of score or grade assigned (letter, number, etc.);
  • Communication to the public;
  • Perceived impact on food safety;
  • Implementation year and changes since implementation;
  • Regulations, licensing, inspections, and penalties; and
  • Geographic barriers and staffing challenges.

Among other findings, the research brief reports that less than half of LHD respondents utilized a scoring or grading system in their retail food establishment inspections. Of those, more than half believed that their scoring systems had no impact on how operators shared information during an inspection.

NACCHO plans to use this information to conduct LHD case studies exploring key questions and hypothesis identified during the data analysis process, including:

  • Does any particular approach to scoring and grading have a greater impact than others on the control of foodborne illness risk factors in retail food establishments?; and
  • Does any approach to scoring and grading have a greater impact than others on on consumer attitudes and behaviors?

Download the research brief for more information.

About Katie Regan

Katie Regan serves as the Communications Specialist for Environmental Health, Pandemic Preparedness, and Catastrophic Response at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices through NACCHO's various storytelling and communications channels. Twitter: @katiejregan

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