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Darien Health Dept. Rates More Restaurants 'Good'

Three restaurants in town rate "fair" instead of "good" in health inspections, according to a look at Darien Health Department's website at the end of the third quarter of the year—in the first quarter there were eight.

For the third quarter of 2012, the Darien Health Department rated no food-serving establishment in town "poor" for health safety concerns, and the vast majority received a "good" rating, but at least three restaurants came in at only "fair."

That's a smaller number than the eight receiving "fair" ratings the last time Darien Patch checked, just at the end of the first quarter of this year. One restaurant that year received a "poor" rating.

One restaurant had "fair" ratings in both the first and third quarters of the year—Tengda Asian Bistro. Another, Duchess Restaurant at 306 Post Rd., either hasn't been inspected since the first quarter (when it was inspected on March 9) or its listing on the Health Department's website hasn't been updated.

Another restaurant, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza at 319 Post Rd., received a rating of one plate back in the first quarter of the year. The restaurant, part of a chain, was new in Darien, and that was its first rating. Since then, the restaurant was inspected on April 2, April 27 and May 29, each time receiving a rating of "fair." Then, on Aug. 31, it received the top rating ("good").

The department issues ratings on a scale of one to three "plates" for each food-serving establishment in town. One plate means "poor"; two plates mean "fair"; three plates mean "good." (for more information on how the ratings system works, see below).

Here are the ones that didn't in the department's most current list (which can be found here). The numbers after "history" in each item show the previous and present ratings, showing how well or poorly an establishment did over time (three is best, one is worst):

ONE PLATE:

None in the third quarter

TWO PLATES:

  • Backstreet Restaurant, 22 Center St. (last inspection: July 3—inspection history) 
  • Tengda Asian Bistro, 25 Old Kings Hwy. N. (last inspection:June 29—inspection history)

How Health Department 'plate' ratings work

On its Web page, the Health Department describes how it rates the establishments:

"This is a program designed to provide the public with some basic information about the sanitary conditions observed in the facility, not just at the time of the inspection, but over the past year.

"Ratings are provided by the department to the food service establishment with the inspection report during each inspection and are based on the following factors:

  • The absence/presence of 'critical violations' that are likely to cause food borne illness,
  • The absence/presence of chronic violations as noted in past inspections,
  • The facility inspection history and efforts to correct previously noted violations,
  • The training and demonstrable knowledge of food service personnel, and
  • The overall sanitary conditions in the facility at the time of inspection."

The ratings system classifies food-serving establishments into three categories:

Three dishes—Good: "A food service establishment shall receive a Good Rating when safe food handling practices with no critical violations were observed at the time of inspection and the facility was found to be in considerable compliance with the factors outlined above."

Two dishes—Fair: "A food service establishment shall receive a Fair Rating when the minimum requirements of the Connecticut Public Health Code were met at the time of inspection but improvements were needed in the food handling practices of food service personnel and the factors outlined above."

One dish—Poor: "A food service establishment shall receive a Poor Rating when chronic or critical violations that are likely to cause food borne illness were evident at the time of inspection, or the facility received a score below eighty (80) or had one (1) or more four (4) point demerit items in violation, or was not in compliance with the factors outlined above."

Kristen Harnisch October 02, 2012 at 09:55 PM
As someone who dines out every weekend (usually in town) this is just the kind of important information I appreciate reading. Thanks for giving insights into the rating system and links so we can monitor the restaurant ratings!
Tom October 05, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Exactly what infractions led to the 2-plate ratings listed above? A leaky refrigerator gasket? Did someone leave the ice scoop in an ice bin? Maybe a bartender left their purse behind the bar? Or the water in the men's room was too hot? These are all infractions that will affect a restaurant's rating, yet that have little if anything to do with a restaurant's cleanliness or food prep and handling procedures. All infractions should be addressed, but it should also be made clear that without the details behind each inspection, the rating system sometimes provides very little useful information.

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