Non-critical violations are those not directly related to foodborne illness but if uncorrected could lead to critical violations.
Wright said the most common non-critical violations are related to cleanliness.
Critical violations are considered more likely to contribute directly to food contamination or illness. The most common include employees failing to wash their hands or wear gloves and improper cooking methods, she said.
"We wanted to highlight the facilities that are already doing an exemplary job before sanitarians come in," Wright said. "When a sanitarian walks in, they have to be in great condition to start with."
The gold star program was announced in conjunction with the institution of probationary periods after facility closures.
When a restaurant has three open critical violations - meaning they could not correct the problems while the sanitarian was inspecting - the facility is closed and a red banner is placed on its posted inspection report.
The rating system uses the color green to 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 considered hazardous to food safety, combined with "non-critical" violations, which are not hazardous to food safety and human health.
After the facility has corrected the critical violations, it will receive a probationary inspection that will allow it to reopen, and the sanitarian will place a canary yellow sign on the posted report.
The Malden Fas Check was the most recent closure but it reopened two days later. It initially had 36 food and safety code violations.
The department has seven full-time and two part-time food sanitarians who conduct two to three inspections per day. Each sanitarian is assigned a geographical territory.
"We would like to get the inspections done within one calendar year, so we're aiming to get them done next year by Feb. 1. By then, we want to get all facilities through the system," Wright said. "We're definitely on target."
Starting May 27, the health department will roll out online swimming pool inspections.
The inspections will reveal water chemistry and other information for 97 pools in the county. That number includes outdoor pools as well as indoor and outdoor pools in hotels, recreational facilities and other public places.
"For the upcoming pool season - starting right around Memorial Day - we wanted to make that information available to the public more easily," Wright said.
"While the inspection process isn't changing, we just want to make information available and transparent."
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