German Restaurants to Display Health-Code Ratings With Traffic Lights

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Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant? If you’re in Germany, your restaurant will tell you with a traffic light.

The hope is the fear of earning a red light will encourage restaurant managers and chefs to ensure their kitchens are spotless. If they’re held accountable with yellow or red ratings, what business wouldn’t make an effort to clean up? (A similar system, with window-displayed certificates giving restaurants letter grades, is in place in New York City.)

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A green light would be no cause for concern, a yellow light would show that doubts had been expressed and a red one would indicate serious shortcomings — a.k.a “eat at your own risk.”  “It’s a milestone for consumer protection,” said Ingelore Rosenkötter, a German senator for health.  “Our aim is that, from January 1, the consumer can find out what shape a restaurant is in from a hygiene point of view by taking a look at the door outside.”

Following the introduction of the traffic light rating system at eating establishments in 2012, similar displays are to be introduced for other food businesses, like butchers and bakers, at a later date. Food businesses that have limited contact with its customers, like Chinese and pizza deliveries, will be required to make their ratings available on the Internet. Although the policy won’t be enforced throughout Germany until next year, local politicians in Berlin plan to roll it out as soon as possible.

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