“I’m tired of C standing for Chinese restaurant.”
So [Walnut Councilman Joaquin] Lim and a consortium of mostly Chinese American community leaders formed a group to try to change the way diners and restaurant owners view food safety. The Chinese Restaurant Health Standards Task Force was launched in hopes of educating the Chinese community about the county’s seven-year-old letter-grading system and to bring restaurants closer in line with health codes so that more of them can display an A on their storefronts.
Although there are no statistics that prove Chinese restaurants score lower grades at a rate greater than other restaurants, members of the task force and county officials point out that 80% of the restaurants in L.A. County carry an A, yet it is difficult to find an authentic Chinese eatery consistently in the top tier of health compliance.
In launching the effort, Lim and his supporters recognize they face two major barriers. One is the apparent lack of concern among Chinese diners about letter grades, as witnessed by the B- and C-graded eateries that do brisk business. The second is the sometimes tense relationship between county food inspectors and restaurant owners, who have long complained that health codes are too strict and don’t take into account age-old methods of cooking Chinese food.