The Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health unanimously voted Thursday evening to expand its new, three-tiered restaurant rating system countywide and post sanitarians' reports online.
Beginning last summer, businesses in South Charleston and along Corridor G were part of a pilot program to test the system, which ranks restaurants and other establishments as either "excellent," "good" or "fair" depending on how many health code violations they receive.
That system will now expand to all businesses in the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's jurisdiction.
Starting Feb. 1, every inspection since last July will be available online. Then, on Feb. 7, each new health inspection will be available at www.kchdwv.org the moment it is completed.
Postings after Feb. 7 also will feature color-coded banners indicating which rating restaurants received.
The health board also approved a special "gold star" award for restaurants that do not have any critical violations and very few non-critical violations.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, health department executive director, previously expressed concerns the rating system was unfair. He worried that a restaurant with multiple violations could simply fix the problems once health inspectors arrived and then receive the same rating as one with no violations at all.
While sanitarians record each violation they find, only those that remain after they leave a business count against the rating.
Gupta said the gold star program rewards restaurants that run a tight ship, even when the health department isn't knocking on their door.
He said the department likely would create a special certificate for businesses that maintain their gold star rating over several inspections to further recognize the area's cleanest restaurants.