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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Drexel: New Review – That Letter on the Restaurant Door Makes Differences

Diners searching for a safe and enticing place to have a meal in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and other cities, often have a little bit of help in making that decision. Each city mandates that eateries post some type of score – from letter grades in NYC to smiley faces in parts of California – to let diners know how well establishments do, relative to other restaurants, when it comes to recent health inspections.

A new paper from Dr. Janet Fleetwood, a professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, took a look at the public health impact and ethical concepts related to the “mandatory posting of restaurant hygiene ratings, balancing the interests of proprietors, public health professionals and consumers.” Her work adds to the sparse literature on the topic, even though the scores are also used in other countries, including Denmark and Singapore.

While “door scores,” as they are sometimes called, remain controversial, foodborne illness sickens 1 in 6 United States residents annually, and 3000 die, underscoring the importance of measures aimed at protecting consumers. In her ethics paper, Dr. Fleetwood concluded that “mandated posting of hygiene ratings, if done properly, is a potentially effective public policy that fosters transparency, population health, and informed consumer choice.”

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