Earlier this year the Board of Health began weighing a plan to require restaurants to prominently display a letter grade of A, B or C, depending on the sanitary conditions. (Those restaurants receiving Bs and Cs would be inspected more often than those inspectors' pets with the As.) A similar public grading system has been used in LA for years, and NYC's 24,000 restaurants will soon get with the left coast. But first, the Board of Health wants to hear your opinion!

A public hearing on the new restaurant grading system will be held on February 5th (details tba here), and the Board of Health is expected to vote on the measure in March, 2010. Under the new rules, restaurants receiving 0 to 13 violation points would receive A grades. Those with 14 to 27 points would get Bs, and those with more than 28 points would get Cs. Currently, about 30% of the city’s restaurants would qualify for A grades, 40% would get Bs and 26% would get Cs. When LA began the letter grading system, the proportion of restaurants meeting the highest food-safety standards rose from 40% to more than 80%, the Health Department says.

It's also worth nothing that the plan being considered would not require a restaurant receiving a B or C to post its grade immediately. These establishments will be re-inspected within a month, giving them a chance to improve. The grade from the second inspection would have to be posted, but the restaurateur could also elect to not post the grade until it has had the opportunity for a hearing. And while the restaurant’s inspection results are under review, the restaurant would post a card indicating that its grade is pending, leaving it up to diners' imaginations.