What if: restaurants displaying inspection codes, calorie counts

I was in New York City last weekend. More accurately, I ate my way around the city. And I noticed some interesting things. All the restaurants, for example, have grades in the window (A,B,C). Turns out that, effective last summer, New York City began requiring restaurants to post letter grades that correspond to scores it receives from its sanitary inspection. Grade cards must be posted where they can easily be seen by people passing by. NYC has 24,000 restaurants, so I would imagine this new requirement serves to greatly motivate restaurateurs to maintain high standards—you can pass on a “C” restaurant and find an “A” next door.

Here in Big D, restaurant inspection scores are readily available to the public, but, honestly, how often are we going to check the score before we try a place out? I do now, but hadn’t until recently when we shared our findings here on Back Talk. It would be a lot easier if the scores were right there in the window, no? I did notice that even the one C-grade spot I saw in NYC wasn’t short on customers, but since the law is so new, I’m not sure customers know to look for the grade yet. Or, maybe they are loyal to their favorite places regardless of the scores.

Another note, all the deli’s and chains had calorie counts listed for menu items. Alas, this is also required by the NYC Health Department. Plus, when I was researching it, I remembered this NY Times story from back in March noting that all major chain restaurants nationwide will soon be required to do this. So, just like I couldn’t order that salmon dill bagel sandwich on Wall St. without knowing that it contained more than 500 calories, I will soon have to see that a caramel Frappucino is 380 calories. Will this affect the way people order? I know it will for me, because I am calorie conscious, though I won’t go looking for the calorie count if it’s not easy to find. So bummer for me. Another truth I don’t want to hear. But I think most will stick to what they like even if it stands to make us pudgier. New York has reported “mixed results at best” with the initiative.


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