Monday, November 28, 2005

IL county to recommend restaurants?

Restaurant-inspection programs have undergone profound changes in recent years, largely as a result of efforts to trumpet the results. In some areas, patrons are greeted with a prominently posted grade—literally an A, B, or D—while in others, a mouse has undergone a social climb unseen since Mickey lifted Walt Disney out of the rat race. The computer version is now the messenger that allows patrons to get a complete lowdown on the eateries in their area, or at least the problems that concerned an inspector. Meanwhile, local radio and TV stations routinely ensure good ratings during sweeps weeks by scheduling “exposes” on popular restaurants that were rated less than perfect. It’s as sure-fire as promising naked news anchors.

As much of a shin kick as those new emphases might have been for restaurants, they’re just a tsk-tsk compared with the concerns likely to be raised by an initiative under consideration in Kane County, IL. Health officials there want to go beyond warning consumers about sub-standard restaurants, to guiding them to places adjudged by the regulators as being healthful. The area plans to publish a directory to its 1,500 eateries, rating them on sanitation-inspection scores; how smoke-free they are; and how many healthy choices they offer on the menu. The findings will be presented both as a printed guide and as an online resource.

As reported in The Chicago Tribune <>, the Kane Public Health Department has already contacted more than 200 restaurants to alert them to the guide. To be considered, the places have to submit a menu, which will be evaluated by a dietician.

The initiative is still in the what-if stage, but it will be formally proposed as a new undertaking for the county at a meeting on Dec. 27.

The folks at Zagat have yet to file their comments.

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