Food Service scores are streamlined -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Food Service scores are streamlined

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December 4, 2007

Albany --  The way your favorite restaurants are graded just changed. You'll soon see a letter grade, just like a report card when you walk in.

The 160-plus pages of revised guidelines are detailed, but that could actually help restaurants stay in compliance and keep you safe.

When the chicken hits the friers at Ole-Times Country Buffet, a line immediately forms at the door.

Maybe it's the down home country food, or the fact that folks know when they come here, they'll leave feeling full and assured that what they just ate, won't make them sick.

"My staff works very hard to keep up," says General Manager B. J. Fletcher.

Ole Times has been open for five years, and just last week received a near perfect score on the latest health inspection report.

"You've got to make sure you're safe," says cook Stacy Fisher.

New rules went into effect on Saturday that have even stricter guidelines as to how restaurants must operate, the focus is where it should be, on food.

"That's where the focus is at, just strictly on food, the food handling," says Fisher.

When you hit the line at a buffet, you may wonder how long the food you're about to put on your plate has been there. Under the new rules, if it's been out for too long, it's got to go.

"They look at that chart and say, okay, they just put that out four hours ago, it's fine. And that's the best thing that could have happened to us," says Fletcher.

 Stacy Fisher says that's the way he sees things too, the better the food, the more customers. "That way they'll keep coming back and keep us in the business like we've been so long."

So long as the Ole Times keep up with the new rules.

Each restaurant must also have at least one employee go through a certification process within the next two years.

You'll also notice a change at drive-thru windows, where restaurants must now display the inspection report.