NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -Mayor Michael Bloomberg returned Monday to the Queens restaurant that received the city's first-ever A grade last year to present them once again with the same honor.
Bloomberg ordered some scrambled eggs on burnt white toast for breakfast from Sparks Deli as he announced key findings about the first year of the city's restaurant grading system.
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Sixty-nine percent of restaurants inspected in the five boroughs over the past year have received As. So far, 90 percent of restaurants have been issued letter grades.
"I would much prefer to eat in a restaurant with an A. I think it says that the owners really care," says Bloomberg.
Thirty percent of the restaurants in the city do not get A's and that's a source of indigestion for them, according to an industry spokesman.
"If we have to have a letter grade system, let's have A , pass, you're safe to serve the public. Or F, fail. We don't need B's and C's that mislead the public, and really damage and shame restaurants," Andrew Rigie, of the New York State Restaurant Association told CBS 2's Tony Aiello.
The city health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says it's still too early to gauge the effect of the letter grades on public health.
"We certainly hope that is going to be the case. That did happen in Los Angeles, a reduction in foodborne illnesses. But it's too early to say here in New York," Farley said. "Every food establishment in New York City, from a corner deli to a five-star restaurant can have the best food safety practices if they train their staff and focus on food safety consistently."
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Sparks Deli owner Tony Araujo says it's not difficult.
"You don't have to be scared of the board of health. The board of health gives you a lot of tools to help you," he says.
Bloomberg says the grades have saved restaurants millions of dollars in fines.
"If you get an A and you still have some violations, because there's always going to be some, we don't fine you. And it's a policy to encourage that have an A to keep an A," says Bloomberg.
The letters are getting a big thumbs up from New Yorkers. Sixty-five percent in a recent survey say they base their restaurant choices solely on the grades.
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