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Food Grading


Newton Food Grading System

Food Grading Toolkit

The City of Newton Health and Human Services Department has developed a toolkit to guide other health departments through the process of designing, implementing, and evaluating a food grading system.


What is a food grade?

Newton’s food grading has been carefully thought out and

planned with the partnership of the Newton food

establishments.  The food grading system is all about food

safety. The grade is not the equivalent of a Zagat rating. A

grade does NOT describe the quality or taste of food, nor does

it reflect the service.  It is solely based on the food safety

inspection report.

During a food safety inspection, many different items are observed:
¨ Correct temperatures of hot and cold foods
¨ Hand washing
¨ Employee health and hygiene
¨ Cleanliness of food prep surfaces
¨ Cross-contamination
¨ Dishwashing and many more!  

Points are assigned to these items depending on how much violations contribute to foodborne illness.  The food establishment starts with 400 points and will lose points if violations are found.

Important points:
¨ Violations that are found will be corrected immediately (if possible)
¨ The food establishment will be given an  additional placard indicating “All Violations Corrected” if the restaurant requires follow-up
¨ At this time, only restaurants will be graded. Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, convenient stores and grocery stores will not be graded.

The Health and Human Services Department, with the backing of Mayor Setti Warren devised the idea of a food grading system in 2013. Food grading is gaining in popularity around the country. Research has shown that grading restaurants may lead to a reduction in foodborne illness and may improve business for restaurants receiving good grades.

¨  47 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses every year and this number continues to grow.
¨ Recent studies have shown the link between cities that have implemented  food grading systems and the resulting decrease in foodborne illness.
¨ The Newton Health Department spoke with other health departments around the country to gain knowledge on what worked and what didn’t work and used that information to develop our system.


From December 2013-February 2014, a pilot study was completed in Newton with a sample inspection form and point deduction system.  Valuable information was gained from the study and the restaurants in the study helped us recognize changes that needed to be made to make the system work better.

Partnership with Food establishments

Partnership with food establishments has been an ongoing and crucial piece to Newton food grading.  We have actively collaborated and elicited feedback from food establishments throughout the implementation of the grading program. 

When you walk into a restaurant, you will see:


Different grade placards will be given according to the following scale:

Superior:360-400 points
Excellent: 320-359 points
Fair: 280-319 points

Unacceptable: 240-279 points

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