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Published: Monday, 2/8/2010

More Ohio restaurants may be required to display health inspection grades


CLEVELAND - Placing inspection stickers in restaurant windows will help inform consumers about how well the establishments comply with food safety codes, according to health officials studying ways to reduce food-borne disease.

Cities where such stickers have been adopted include Los Angeles, Toronto, Sacramento, and Columbus. Officials in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, are seeking ways to implement similar grading systems.

"We want to understand where the successes are," said county Health Commissioner Terry Allan.

Columbus began a color-coded grading system in 2006. The public mostly supports the program, Columbus Health Commissioner Teresa Long said. Restaurant owners initially worried they would be stuck with a designation reflecting a one-day snapshot based on a single inspection, Gail Baker, executive director of the Central Ohio Restaurant Association, said.

Introduction of grade cards in Los Angeles County, California, corresponded to a 20 percent decrease in food-illness-related hospitalizations, while restaurateurs were more motivated to improve hygiene quality, according to a 2005 study in the journal of the American Agricultural Economics Association.

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