Sep 14, 2022 - Business

Council debates restaurant safety signage

Illustration of a traffic light with place setting shaped lights.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

City Council member Scott Benson isn't budging on his proposal to place colored placards in restaurant windows to indicate food safety code results.

Driving the news: The ordinance was referred to the council's public health and safety committee during yesterday's city council meeting.

  • Council Pro-Tem James Tate said he couldn't support the ordinance as written due to objections made by several business leaders, who advocated for a QR code on doors that direct customers to the health department's past inspections instead of colored placards.
  • Benson argued that many seniors are without smartphones that have the ability to read codes.
  • Council member Fred Durhal III objected to bringing the vote back next week, saying it would be a waste of time if neither side will budge on the issue.

The intrigue: Business owners are questioning whether the health department will be able to resolve potential violations quickly enough that they don't lose business.

  • With 10 inspectors and 1,700 food establishments, that's 170 establishments per inspector.
  • Scott Withington, environmental health officer with the health department, said he's confident his inspectors will be able to handle the change amid concerns about availability of those inspectors.

What they're saying: The community members who called into the meeting mostly supported the ordinance.

  • "Anytime you have rats, you have rat doo-doo, you have rat urine, you have rat hair all in your food," Malik Shabazz, founder of the Detroit New Black Panther Nation, said at council.

Between the lines: Shabazz spoke at council four days after he and Benson held a demonstration outside Lafayette Coney Island. Joined by a handful of people, they chanted "clean it up or shut it down," the Free Press reports.

What's next: The ordinance is heading back to council's health and safety committee, where it will need to be sent back to council for a final vote.

  • If approved, the grading system would start Jan. 1.
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