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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Health inspectors in North Carolina will soon have a new menu to grade restaurant cleanliness.

Lawmakers recently approved an overhaul of the 35-year-old guidelines, but some of the changes have many business owners upset.

Sanitation scores are prominently displayed in every restaurant, but with new changes taking place in September owners fear they could effect the bottom line.

Orlando Martinez is the manager of I Love New York Pizza in downtown Wilmington.

“Everybody can see we are clean in here,” he said.

But he has had problems with the way his restaurant has been graded in the past.

“I think it’s not fair what they did to us,” Martinez said. “Last year we got 101, and this year we got a 99.5.”

Those grades could once again change under the new sanitation rules.

Under the new rules, beef can now be ordered rare. A food protection manager must be on site at all times. Passing a food safety class can no longer boost sanitation ratings. Kitchen workers must wear gloves.

Some restaurant managers and owners, who did not want to go on camera, told us some of these changes could add significant costs and inconvenience.

“I work in the oven,” Martinez said. “All I do is make pizza. I don’t touch money. I don’t do nothing like that all I do is make pizza. It’s 500 degrees in that oven. How am I supposed to wear gloves!”

Martinez says the new rules are invasive. He says it’s a case of too many chefs spoiling the soup.

“They come and inspect our stuff,” he said, “but we know what we’re doing we’re doing.”

The new guidelines are based on federal standards. They go into effect in North Carolina September 1.

Of course, we’ll keep you posted on the high and low performers in Kitchen Cops.

Comment on this Story

  • BeBeP

    Gloves are NOT required for every duty in the kitchen – the new specs are very different and open to interpretation by the health inspectors as they always have been. Gloves ONLY need to be worn when touching raw, uncooked food which will come into contact with someone’s mouth. Gloves MUST also be changed when changing tasks; they are NOT worn constantly. I really hope the health department will take the effort to do some real education for the public so that misrepresentations and misunderstandings can be cleared up. There’s not really a great deal of cost involved – the health codes are simply returning to a method of ensuring sanitation that was in force many years ago.

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