King County rolls out first phase of food safety ratings program

Starting Tuesday, King County diners will know much more about the safety of restaurant food.

Public Health Seattle and King County is rolling out the first phase of the food safety ratings program in North Seattle, Shoreline, and Lake Forest Park.

Restaurants there will have signs in their windows that clearly indicate how that restaurant has scored in food safety inspections.

A restaurant's rating is based on three main components: trend of food safety practices over time, scale of performance and rating on a curve, according to the health department.

The signs must be displayed near the front entry and will feature emoji facial expressions.

Happy face indicates excellent inspection results. A sad face means the restaurant needs improvement.

A Seattle lawyer who has represented hundreds of food borne illness victims believes the signs are good for consumers.

“The more information the public has, the better. I think it’s a good thing and I’m glad Seattle, King County did it,” said attorney Bill Marler.

Later Tuesday, Public Health of Seattle and King County will unveil the winning sign of six that consumers have been voting on for months.

King County is the first urban county in the US to base its food safety ratings on four inspections instead of just one.

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