There are more than 1,200 restaurants in Kanawha County. Using its new risk rating system, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department intends to inspect every single one by Feb. 1.
The public is going to be a lot safer as a result.
As the Daily Mail's Candace Nelson recapped recently, the department looks at places where food is for sale according to the health risks they pose: from level 1 for places that serve prepackaged food to level 4 for restaurants that serve dishes made from scratch.
Sanitarians use the color green to signal excellent compliance with food safety regulations, yellow for good compliance, orange for fair compliance and red for violations so serious they merit closure.
And on Feb. 1, the department's seven full-time and two part-time inspectors began recognizing exemplary compliance with regulations intended to secure public safety by awarding them publicly posted gold stars.
The superachievers included all kinds of establishments, from Arby's at the Crossing Mall to Edgewood Summit to Husson's Pizza in Elkview to K-Mart on Patrick Street to Shawnee Community Center, Sissonville Middle School, Walmart in Southridge, the nursing stations at Thomas Memorial Hospital . . . . The Daily Mail ran the complete list in Tuesday's paper.
Gold star establishments should be rewarded with great public confidence.
Such recognition speaks well of management and staff at these businesses and should be a source of great pride.
Gold star ratings are not easy to get. Of the 595 food places inspected so far, only 26 - 4 percent - have merited the distinction.
Offering the possibility of positive recognition for superior compliance with food safety regulations - not just negative publicity - is a good move.
It will be a powerful motivator to all the hard-working people who serve the public, and must do so safely.