Why the Food Safety “Letter” is so Important

The topic of Food safety has gained a huge amount of attention in NYC in the past few years. Many New Yorkers have questioned food safety in the five boroughs, and more specifically, what lawmakers are doing, or are not doing, to prevent restaurants from serving unsafe food.

According to a recent audit by the office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, around 73% of serious food safety cases go unresolved because of an inconsistency in the enforcement of food safety codes. Comptroller DiNapoli said “Auditors found that food safety inspectors are identifying hundreds of establishments with serious violations, including food that has not been refrigerated properly or food that has been handled by sick workers. However, many of these food serving establishments faced no enforcement actions whatsoever.”

This failure to properly handle restaurant violations is extremely dangerous. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is estimated that 1 and 6 Americans come down with a foodborne illness each year. Annually, this results in 128,000 hospitalizations due to serious illness and 3,000 fatalities. These figures are troublingly high and could be prevented with the proper regulations and enforcement.

The Comptrollers’ office has urged the Department of Health (DOH) to identify patterns of code non-compliance and to act on violations.

While the DOH certainly has room for improvement in terms of food service oversight, there are systems currently in place that may help consumers avoid eating at unsafe establishments. The DOH requires all restaurants to place letter grades on their windows.

The Health Department inspects about 24,000 restaurants a year to monitor compliance with City and State food safety regulations. Since July 2010, the Health Department has required restaurants to post letter grades showing sanitary inspection results. Restaurants with a score between 0 and 13 points earn an A, those with 14 to 27 points receive a B and those with 28 or more a C. – NYC.gov

Foodborne illness are not a joke and should not be taken lightly. Restaurant owners must be held accountable when they fail to realize the importance of food safety. Hopefully, the Comptroller’s audit will urge the DOH to penalize restaurant owners who fail to make safety a top priority. If you or a loved one has received a foodborne illness from an establishment in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or Manhattan we may be able to help you seek compensation. Click here for a free personal injury case evaluation. 

Dear friends and clients,

In furtherance of our firms culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can. 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP