Before making dining plans, do you spend time searching through health inspection records to see how the place did? Most of us do not and instead decide to put our trust in those who prepare our food.
But, there is an app for that to put control back in your hands.
It is called HDScores and when you open it on your phone, it shows a map with a list of restaurants in the area. It lists a percentage score next to the name and that percentage is based on a point system through county health inspection records.
The national company’s mission is making sure hygiene is on the menu, while their headquarters are based right in the East Valley.
“We’re not really interested in shaming the poor performing restaurants,” said HDScores Chief Operating Officer Glynne Townsend. “We’re really interested in you making the right choice in a higher performing restaurant.”
Townsend said from allergies to food temperature, to basic cleanliness – when you place an order, you place your health in the hands of strangers.
“When you ask the waitress if she can separate the food from preparation, she’ll say ‘absolutely’ – but, you have no idea what goes on in the kitchen,” Townsend explained.
That is why HDSCores was digitally formed. They pull health inspection records from restaurants, schools, hospitals and more from around 1,700 counties nationwide.
You can see their coverage map here to see if they operate in your area of the Valley.
“We take a critical violation and we’ll assign it two points,” Townsend described. “Non-critical: we’ll assign it a point. If it’s a repeat violation, we’ll add in half a point. If it’s fixed on site, then we’ll detract half a point and then we’ll put more emphasis on our most recent scores to try and improve restaurants or encourage restaurants to continually improve.”
The inspection records are also listed in more basic terms. You can see how often the restaurant made the same mistake and decide if it is somewhere you want to dine.
Townsend said their app is aimed at helping you make hygiene-geared choices because restaurants can mislead you.
In Maricopa County, restaurants can opt out of getting a grade rating or even displaying it.
Also, for example, if a restaurant got an ‘A’ rating years prior, there is no law that says they have to take it down, even if that ‘A’ rating is not accurate anymore.
“In fact, we don’t just provide an ‘A’ rating for that moment in time,” Townsend said. “We provide a score that looks at an operation benefit of over two years of data.”
The app costs 99 cents a month or $10.99 per year. You can click here to learn more or to download it.
ABC15 also searches through inspection records through our Restaurant Report Card series. You can see the latest report here.
If you would like to search weekly inspection records through Maricopa County, click here.
Maricopa County Environmental Services also has a Cutting Edge Program.
Restaurant owners can participate in the program to learn how to be cleaner and do better on their inspections. The website writes “Cutting Edge participants statistically outperform with fewer violations, higher grades and participate in promoting their inspection results to the public.”