Follow through on your "scores on doors" commitments, King County! Post scores in 2016!
2015 was a year filled with foodborne illness outbreaks in King County. King County previously committed to following through on posted restaurant inspection scores in December, 2014. It's now 2016 and King County Public Health has privately revealed that posted scores probably won't happen for another year. Despite a long restaurant community engagement process in 2014 where recommendations for numeric, averaged score would be used, similar to the UK's "scores on doors," King County hasn't shared design examples or begun piloting posted scores. They'd previously told community stakeholders that the posting process would begin in late 2015/early 2016. After 2.5 years of discussions, King County is quietly planning to push back their launch date. Meanwhile, the CDC has found restaurant-caused foodborne illness outbreaks have shot up 25% (compared to a 1998-2008 study), to 88% of total outbreak sources in 2013-2015. Isn't it time King County provide inspection scoring so citizens can easily make informed decisions and use the power of the market to encourage stronger food-handling practices in restaurants? In December 2014, King County's section manager said, "'We really want to respond to the public desire for this kind of information,' said Becky Elias, food and facilities section manager for Public Health — Seattle & King County. 'The finish line is on the horizon. It won’t happen for at least a year and it’s not yet clear what the signs will say, but a group of health officials, restaurant owners and others who met last summer concluded their work last week with the mandate to move forward — cautiously." With no restaurant inspection scores posted to services like Yelp (unlike an increasing number of peer governments), an inspection website that is still mired in 2002 technology, no score prototypes for the public to see, and no scores posted on doors of restaurants, "cautiously" is starting to look like "cautiously avoiding." Please sign & share the petition, to tell King County Public Health and the King County Health, Housing and Human Services Committee to make posted restaurant inspection scores a priority for 2016, producing publicly available score prototypes, launching their current inspection data in services like Yelp, and implementing posted scores within 2016. The time for conversation is over. King County residents are hungry for posted, accessible inspection scores. Previous Petition Language __________________________________________________________________See this video from King 5 News on how we could make eating out safer in King County. Each year, 1 in 5 Americans gets food poisoning. This completely preventable illness results from poor food handling. Restaurants are a major source of food poisoning, yet King County's antiquated restaurant inspection ratings website makes it difficult for county residents to easily search and understand if a restaurant has had good or bad inspection ratings. Essentially, these ratings show the progress of a restaurant to maintain high levels of cleanliness and well trained (for food safety) staff. King County could reduce reported food poisoning hospitalization rates by at least 14% (which is a lot, since most food poisoning cases go unreported or don't make it to the hospital) by creating a "A, B, C..." ratings system, with "A" being highest, and "F" being grounds for closure. These ratings should be posted publicly near the entrance of all restaurants, bars, cafes, and eateries. In addition, these ratings should be made available through open data, allowing websites like Yelp to post restaurant inspection ratings in their websites and apps. So, when you quickly look for a restaurant in your area, you can see how safe it is along with their menu and customer reviews. Currently, King County Public Health (the agency that manages restaurant inspection ratings) has a website that hasn't been upgraded since the early 2000's, and a convoluted inspection ratings system that confuses consumers. None of these ratings are posted at restaurants. As a result, restaurants that don't adhere to safety standards keep serving food to unknowing customers, and restaurants who are safe and clean don't get rewarded for their work with an "A" rating. Consumers should be able to use transparent, readily available restaurant ratings to drive their purchases, rewarding safer restaurants with more business. King County Public Health has refused to improve their current website or ratings system, creating small patches that don't meet citizen's needs. In the meantime, more people unknowingly eat at unsafe restaurants and fall ill. We can prevent food poisoning in King County and set a higher standard for food safety. Sign the petition and tell King County Board of Health to make King County Public Health update its ratings systems and create more transparency in ratings. (Photo above by woodleywonderworks on Flickr.)