NYC Restaurant Sanitation Grades 2013


Have you ever wondered which restaurants in New York are the cleanest? What about the ones in your neighborhood that have the most violations? For my final project for a data journalism class I am taking at Columbia University this summer, I parsed data from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on restaurant sanitation grades.

How do the grades work?

Every restaurant in NYC receives a grade for its sanitation on the basis of the following point system.

0-13 Points = “A”
14-27 Points = “B”
28+ Points = “C”

The more points there are, the more violations a restaurant has. Three inspections of 28+ points leads to the closing of facilities.The other important part of the process to note is that restaurants are graded twice each year. Every restaurant starts off with an “A” but during the inspection it can receive a certain amount of violation points which can lower their grade based on the type and intensity of the violations. If the restaurant is not given an “A” at the first inspection, it is scored but not graded. About a month later, an inspector will revisit the facility unannounced. This time, if the restaurant still does not receive an “A”, the inspector will give the establishment two cards, one with a “B” or a “C” and one with a “Pending” on it. The restaurant can choose which card to display if it wants to appeal the grade given to them. A greater explanation of this grading system can be found at: The data I got from the website was from 2010 – 2014 but because the NYC restaurant sanitation scoring system changed in 2011, I decided to only stick with analyzing 2011-2014.

Map of NYC Restaurant Sanitation Score Differences between 2011 and 2014: With this, I created the following map using QGIS, TileMill and Mapbox:

Here are some of the trends I looked at with the data:

Mean Scores by Borough:
Queens               23.006915
Manhattan         22.673882
Brooklyn             22.499117
Bronx                21.899484
Staten Island     21.063472

Top Five Cuisine Types with Highest Violations:
Creole                   30.94
Creole/Cajun              29.51
Chinese/Cuban          28.96
Basque                    28.23
Chinese/Japanese     27.76

Top Five Cuisine Types with Lowest Violations:
Donuts                    15.55
Soups and Sandwiches    15.30
Californian               12.00
Soups                    10.56
Chilean                   6.00

My biggest finding was that the scores and the grades in the data provided by the Department of Health for restaurant sanitation do not actually match up. I used the data analysis tool pandas to first isolate how many restaurants were rated “A” in the “Current Grade” column out of the entire data set. Then I looked to see how many of the A graded restaurants also had scores between 0 and 13. I did this again for B and for C. Below are the findings I found:

For Restaurants with A’s, 133,861 restaurants fit into the A point range while 1,029 did not have scores that fit into the A point range.
For Restaurants with B’s, 41,317 restaurants fit into the B point range while 17,825 did not have scores that fit into the B point range.
For Restaurants with C’s, 16,836 restaurants fit into the C point range while 13,987 did not have scores that fit into the C point range.

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