How does one choose a restaurant in a place not familiar, especially on travel or tourist jaunts? Grading of eateries is practiced in some countries but the customers have hardly any insight into the grade of a restaurant or an eating place during the visit as rarely there is any display containing such information. Even if the grade is exhibited prominently, it does not guarantee that food is really safe. This is where some consumer activists are demanding transparency regarding the inspections made by the health authorities and the results of such assessment. One of the most pressing concerns is the hygiene and sanitation status of the facilities which has a direct bearing on the safety of foods prepared there. It is true that the owners of eating establishments display prominently any thing that eulogizes them while silent on their deficiencies. Of course ultimately the clientele of any business is built upon the reputation of the products and repeat visits can be expected only if the food is good with no bitter "after visit" experience.
"Posted outside restaurants' windows are menus, Zagat ratings and clippings of local newspaper reviews. What's missing, says D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh, is information about the restaurants' sanitary conditions. Cheh supports requiring restaurants to display a letter grade based on their most recent health department inspection. She says that now, residents must file public records requests for details on restaurant inspections".
Many restaurants try to segregate and hide the preparation area from the customers while the dining areas are decked up with attractive decor. An ideal situation could be to design eateries with the kitchen in the center of the place, visible to most of the diners and this puts the workers on full alert and caution resulting in more frequent cleaning, disciplined movements, clean environment, etc which can be expected to impress the customers. Greater awareness about hygiene and sanitation and to score over competition, are driving many restaurants to go for HACCP and other safety certification systems which is good for both the owners as well as the consumers.