EDITORIAL: Restaurant scrutiny good, but don’t jump to conclusions

When KIRO released a special investigation on Asian restaurants and health violations earlier in May, many people were understandably worried. Food safety is an important issue and making sure the restaurants where you eat are serving safe food is a priority. However, on occasions such as these, it’s important to do your own research and not jump to conclusions.

What violations were Asian restaurants guilty of that led to unsatisfactory marks? Were they infested with mice? Did they serve poor quality food or store uncooked food improperly?

No. Most often, restaurants were cited for storing their hot food at a not-hot-enough temperature and taking an extended period of time to cool food after preparation, something many people do at home on a daily basis.

In truth, Macky’s Dim Sum, a restaurant named in KIRO’s investigation, is very highly rated, with a Zagat score of 26 out of 30, a lifetime Yelp rating of three-and-a-half stars, and an average rating of four-and-a-half stars over the past two months. During Macky’s last “unsatisfactory” inspection in January, the restaurant received 10 out of a possible 400 points, not even a third of the 35 points necessary to warrant a reinspection in King County and a far cry from the 90 points needed to close a restaurant.

In truth, from 2007 to 2011, 40 percent of all restaurant inspections, not just inspections on Asian restaurants, resulted in an “unsatisfactory” rating from King County. That doesn’t mean eating at 40 percent of restaurants in the area will make you sick.

Restaurant regulation is a complicated issue, especially when concerning restaurants run by immigrants to the country, people who were raised eating food prepared and treated differently.

The King County Health Department’s restaurant regulations are intended to make certain to the highest degree that no one gets sick from what and where they’re eating. It’s good that all restaurants in the county are all held to the same standards, but remember, it’s also important to do your own research and understand the reasoning and definitions behind the regulation. Approach things like this calmly and rationally. Don’t panic, because things are often not as bad as they might seem.  (end)

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