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Restaurant rating system going countywide Feb. 1

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Beginning next month, Kanawha County health officials will implement a color-coded restaurant rating system countywide.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has been testing out the rating system since August in eateries in South Charleston and along Corridor G.

"We have worked out our glitches with the software and the computers and our sanitarians are currently using the computers with the software in the field," said Nasandra Wright, a sanitation supervisor for the health department. "I think it will be very good for the public, personally, because it will bring about public awareness in terms of technology and transparency."

Under the new rating system, sanitarians will assign each restaurant a color-coded rating of green for "excellent," yellow for "good" and orange for "fair" compliance with the food code. The ratings will be assigned according to the number of critical and non-critical violations given to the restaurant. Along with the ratings, restaurants also must post a list of their violations.

Last summer, the health department received tablet computers and portable printers from the state as part of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sanitarians had at first been having problems with the printers and the computers, health officials said.

The printers allow sanitarians to print the rating sheet while in the restaurant.

The equipment and software is now running efficiently, Wright said.

The Kanawha-Charleston health board's food committee will meet later this month to discuss any challenges that have been noticed with the rating system, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the health department. The committee will present those challenges, if any, to the full board during a regular meeting on Jan. 17, he said.

Board members had agreed to implement the rating system countywide after the six-month pilot program -- as long as there were no significant problems with it, Gupta said.

"I think the date of going live is pretty much set," said Gupta, who added that the department has not seen any significant problems with the system that would prevent it from being rolled out across the county.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, who initially pushed for a rating system, said he believes the public will support the system.

"I've talked to [restaurant owners], and all they want is fair and equal treatment," Carper said. "They're more than happy to follow the rules as long as they know what they are."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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