CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - Every time you walk into a restaurant or swing through a drive-thru, there's a health grade posted with an A, B, C, etc... rating, according to health inspector -- Lynn Lanthan with the Mecklenburg County Health Department.
She says the more health violations - the lower the score.
"If you score below a 70 that's an automatic closure, revocation of a permit, you have to go through plan review to get open again," she said.
Violations can include things like not washing hands, storing food improperly, and using chemicals in the kitchen without the right labeling.
Health inspections can be done one to four times a year - depending on the risk category. For example, schools are graded four times while some restaurants only get one visit a year.
"Any inspections that we do for the purpose of posting a score - by law - are unannounced."
Lanthan says the grade only tells part of the story; the actual violations explain the rest.
"Most counties these days have those things available online. You can check them anytime. Some even offer if you want to choose your favorite facilities that you can ask for an alert or something of that nature."
Also take a look at the grade history of the restaurant -- if it's a consistent 'a' or fluctuates.
"Our evaluation is a snapshot in time. That's why there's a date on that inspection card that's reflective of what was seen at that time. They can have an 'A' and be operating at less than an 'A'. If there's 365 days in a year and we see them four times a year for a couple of hours at a time, then obviously what needs to happen is that the operator has to be responsible."
Find links to health grades by county:
South Carolina – all in one place!