There’s been some good news for restaurant operators in New York City. Food safety fines will be reduced. The $50 million-a-year revenue will now be brought down to an estimated $30 million. (What’s $20 million between friends anyway?) In addition, grade standards will be reassessed, an office will be created to mediate between operators and inspectors and food safety training will be offered by the Health Department…for a nominal fee. While the first consultation will not cost the operator, after that, who knows. I still smell profitability. The exact details of how this will be accomplished have yet to be disclosed, but it is a step in the right direction. Food safety should not be all about generating cash flow. Protecting consumers’ health and the restaurant’s reputation and liability should be the main focus. As I have said all along, what is fair is fair. If you prepare food in a way that puts consumers at risk, you should get hit hard in the wallet. Having a wet wiping cloth outside sanitizer solution should not cost you $300 in fines, nor should a fruit fly on an environmental surface for that matter. What the department of health needs to do is make the violations that have a direct potential correlation to foodborne illness cost the most. Cross-contamination, adulterated food, thermal abuse, sick food workers and hand washing need to be at the forefront of an inspection. Looking at the root cause and some training tips would better serve food service establishments, rather than an inspector bringing the hammer down on petty citations. Food inspectors will always be looked at as the enemy; however, a little fairness and respect goes a long way. Stay tuned…we will see how this plays out.