San Francisco: Ahead Of An Unappetizing Curve

Say what you will about San Francisco’s city government (you’d often be surprisingly right, you bitter old thing), when it comes to health inspections, we’re apparently number one in the nation. Or we have some incredibly lax standards. Let’s just go with the former.

In a study published today, the Center for Science in the Public Interest investigated 539 restaurant inspection reports from 30 U.S. cities, and found, according to ABC News, that more than 66 percent had at least one “high-risk food safety violation.”

But San Francisco ranks right near the bottom of that list, with just 15 violations in the 30 reports submitted, only two of which were considered critical. Contrast that with pack leader Austin’s 58 violations, 10 of which were critical. Of course, the lack of violations could mean two things, as ABC picked up on:

Over a quarter of restaurants received citations for contaminated food contact surfaces - 22 percent of restaurants were cited for improper food storage temperatures - 13 percent of restaurants were hit with violations for the presence of rodents and/or insects

Restaurants in Austin, TX and Boston, MA had the highest number of critical violations, according to the report. Tucson, AZ and San Francisco, CA had the fewest violations. However, the report notes that cities have varying inspection standards and that “it is difficult - if not impossible” to determine whether greater numbers of violations were simply a sign of more zealous food safety inspectors.

So take from this report what you will. The conclusion by CSPI was that more cities should adopt the letter grade system used in Los Angeles. San Francisco doesn’t have such a system, but it does require restaurants to keep a record of their last inspection on-site. So that’s a start. If you’re curious, you can always look a restaurant up with the San Francisco Department of Health

Dirty Dining [CSPI]
Hold the E-Coli, Please [ABC]
Find a Score [San Francisco Department of Health]

[Photo: via ianonymous/flickr]


San Francisco: Ahead Of An Unappetizing Curve