Fishers Health Dept. proposes new sanitation grading system


Consumers in Fishers could see sanitation grades posted outside their favorite restaurants starting next year if the Fishers City Council passes a proposed sanitation grading system. The system is being proposed by the Fishers Health Dept.

The council heard a first reading of the proposal at its Oct. 10 meeting and will hear a final reading at its Nov. 14 meeting at Launch Fishers, where the council is expected to vote on the retail food inspection grading system.

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If passed, the Fishers Health Dept. will start the inspections on all Fishers restaurants in January and will have all grades posted outside the establishments in June of 2023.

Currently, the inspections follow Indiana Health Dept. and U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. Those requirements will still be in place, with the only change being a point system added to it, said Monica Heltz, director of the Fishers Health Dept.

“The actual items that we’re inspecting are not changing. The only thing that’s changing is instead of having a pass-fail report, we’re assigning points to the different sanitation items that we’re inspecting,” Heltz said. “And so, it’s not a different inspection. It’s just how we’re assigning points that correlate to a grade in that inspection.”

The grading system is based on a point system with every establishment starting at 100. Points are deducted for violations, with point values based on the health risk the violation poses. Point values fall into three categories: priority, priority foundation and core violations.

Priority violations consist of hazards that are associated with foodborne illness or injury and are a five-point deduction. Priority Foundation violations are issues that facilitate or enable the priority violations, which can cause a three-point deduction. And core violations are general sanitation, operational controls and other general maintenance violation that results in a two-point violation.

The restaurants will be graded on a scale from A to C. Grade A reflects exceptional compliance with all rules and regulations and will have a score of 81-100. Grade B reflects acceptable compliance with the rules and regulations and scores will be from a 71-80. Grade C reflects meeting minimum requirements for compliance with the rules and regulations with a score between 61-70. Any restaurant with a score less than 60 will be considered an imminent health hazard and be temporarily closed and will only be allowed to reopen when all priority violations will be corrected, and hazards eliminated.

The new grading system would ensure a sense of transparency, Heltz said.

“This is a way to show increased transparency to residents about the safety and cleanliness of the food establishments that they are eating from,” she said.