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Food safety rating categories

Restaurants will now receive one of four food safety ratings to provide the public with more information about the level of a restaurant’s food safety practices, helping them make informed decisions about eating out.

If a restaurant is open for business it meets minimum food safety standards to operate.

The four food safety ratings

  • Needs to improve: The restaurant was either closed by Public Health — Seattle & King County within the last year or the restaurant needed multiple return inspections to fix food safety practices.

  • Okay: The restaurant has had MANY red critical violations over the last four inspections.

  • Good: The restaurant has had SOME red critical violations over the last four inspections.

  • Excellent: The restaurant has had No or Few red critical violations over the last four inspections.

What is behind a restaurant's rating?

A restaurant's rating category is determined by three main components:

  • Trend of food safety practices over time. Good food safety needs to be practiced every day. The food safety rating window signs will reflect how well a restaurant has performed over time, not just on a single inspection. A restaurant's food safety rating will be determined by the average of red critical violation points from a restaurant's last four routine inspections.

  • Scale of performance. King County residents want to know more than if a restaurant passes or fails an inspection. The restaurant window signs will show how well the restaurant practices food safety beyond meeting the minimum standard.

  • Zip code adjustment. King County residents want to know how well a restaurant practices food safety in comparison to other restaurants within the same neighborhood. Each restaurant's average score is compared with other restaurants within the same zip code or geographic area.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the percentage of restaurants that fall into each category: 50% 'Excellent,' 36% 'Good' and 8% 'Okay.' The 'Needs to improve' category is not influenced by zip code adjustment.

What is a red critical violation?

Those food handling practices that, when not done properly, are most likely to lead to food borne illness.

Steps to safe food handling


Food safety rating system homepage