In a move to both elevate the level of cleanliness in restaurants and the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene brand, NYC's Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden announced the Golden Apple Award (press release with lots of details), which would bestow restaurants that "have excellent recent inspection results, participate in a new DOHMH Quality Improvement Food Protection course (or demonstrate that acceptable quality assurance measures have been in place for the last 12 months) and pass a special Golden Apple consultation and inspection process" with a decal (much like the logo at left) for the restaurant's window. Yes, a decal that would tell people this restaurant is "cleaner and safer" than one without. The Times notes this is like California's system of grading restaurants A or B so customers know how clean/safe/sanitary they are.

Clearly, this is a way to drum up business for the DMHH's safety courses. The real question is will restaurants like Le Bernardin, Jean-Georges, Alain Ducasse, Bouley, and Daniel want to put a sticker like that in their restaurant? It might be a good tool for small restaurants, but for bigger, high-end ones where health and safety are assumed, this is an interesting question. Perhaps if one restaurateur decides to go for it, others will follow.

Search the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene's database of restaurant inspections yourself and see if you can find any qualifying restaurants. And owners who want to argue an inspection can go to an Administrative Tribunal. The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert looked at health code violations two years ago [via greg.org]. This is not to confused with the Department of Sanitation's Golden Apple Award program with school children. And golden apples are big in mythology.

Gothamist on health code violations in city restaurants.