CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some local restaurants will now display a canary sign indicating an up to 30-day probationary period if they had been closed for three or more open critical violations, according to new inspection guidelines as part of the restaurant rating system.
At the Kanawha Charleston Health Department meeting Thursday, Anita Ray, director of environmental health, introduced the probationary period post so consumers will have a status update on the business.
When a restaurant has been closed because of three or more open critical violations, they receive a red banner. The rating system includes green, representing "excellent compliance;" yellow for "good compliance;" and orange for "fair compliance." A red rating closes the establishment.
Each level of the color rating is based on the number of "critical" violations, which are more severe and are hazardous to food safety, combined with "non-critical" violations, which are not hazardous to food safety and human health.
Under the new system, when a sanitarian returns to verify the corrections and reopen the kitchen, they will post the canary-colored sheet that will indicate a 30-day probationary period. In 30 days, the sanitarian will conduct a standard inspection and get them back on the colored rating system.
"They could get to them quicker than 30 days, but our people are so busy, it could be up to 30 days," Ray said.
A gold star program was also introduced and is based on the facility's risk level and their consistency to do well on standard inspections. Currently, 16 establishments have qualified for a gold star since the beginning of February, and no establishments have been closed.
Those that have qualified are South Charleston Community Center, Hampton Inn in Downtown Charleston, Bob Evans in South Charleston, Sassy's #1, Sassy's #2, Taco Bell in the West Side, B&E Pastime, K-Mart on Patrick Street, Wendy's in the West Side, Day and Night Market, Thomas Memorial Hospital Nursing Stations, Mimi's in Dunbar, Rollin' Smoke BBQ, Husson's Pizza in Elkview, Great Escape Move Theatre in Nitro, and Inn Zone.
Health Department Executive Director Rahul Gupta said that more sit-down restaurants will be included as inspectors continue to make their rounds. Ray noted the rating system has been well-received by both business owners and the general public.
The Kanawha Charleston Health Department has inspections posted online at http://tinyurl.com/ckvqmwo, and it plans to create an app for the restaurant inspections in a comprehensive package with the restaurant's menu, calorie counts, what amount of exercise a person would need to balance that meal and the nearest place to exercise.