Food Sanitation Grading System
The City of Milwaukee Health Department Division of Consumer Environmental Health inspects all restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, mobile food trucks, and mobile peddlers at least once a year for compliance with health and sanitation codes. Beginning in 2018, each city licensed food establishment’s annual regulatory food inspection resulted in an A, B, or C grade placard issue to each establishment. Posting of the Sanitation Grade was voluntary in 2018, and mandatory in 2019.
About the Scoring System
Every inspection conducted by MHD health inspectors is based on the 2020 Wisconsin Food Code. Violations fall into three categories: Priority, Priority Foundation, and Core violations.
Under Milwaukee’s Sanitation Grading System, an establishment's annual inspection will continue to be based on the 2020 Wisconsin Food Code, and each food establishment will start with 100 points. Points will be deducted for each violation documented, with point values assigned to the violations based on the FDA criteria, or health risk the violation poses to the public, below:
- Priority (contributes directly to the elimination, prevention or reduction to an acceptable level, hazards associated with foodborne illness or injury and there is no other provision that more directly controls the hazard.) = 5.0 points
- Priority Foundation (supports, facilitates, or enables one or more priority items) = 3.0 Points
- Core Item (usually relates to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures, facilities or structures, equipment design, or general maintenance) = 2.0 points
How do these scores become a letter grade?
Milwaukee's Sanitation Grading System assigns a letter grade to the point value earned during an establishment's routine annual inspection. Because good sanitation and health practices need to be practiced every day, the final letter grade will be a weighted average of several inspections to reflect how well a restaurant has performed over time, not just on a single inspection.
At the annual routine inspection, a food service establishment's point total will result in a letter grade score following the below criteria:
A = 100-79 points
B = 78- 60 points
C = Below 60 points
Temporarily Closed = Less than 60 points or imminent health hazard. The establishment will re-open after all priority violations have been corrected and the imminent health hazard is eliminated.
Food service establishments can earn points back upon re-inspection. Corrected violations will earn points back, provided they were not repeat violations, based on the FDA violation criteria and point values below:
The final letter grade assigned to a food service establishment will be a weighted average of the previous three inspections. In 2018, the first year of the Sanitation Grading System, the initial routine inspection was 100% of the grade. In the following years, the final letter grade will be the weighted average of the most recent inspection and the previous year's.
- 2018: Initial routine inspection for 2018 was 100% the letter grade
- 2019: Initial routine inspection for 2019 accounted for 50% of the final grade, with 50% from the previous 2018 inspection
- 2020: In the third year, the most recent inspection will be worth 50% of the letter grade, 35% of the grade will be from the previous year's routine inspection, and 15% from the year before
Sanitation Grade Posting Requirements
Each food service establishment issued a City of Milwaukee Food Dealer Licence will receive a Milwaukee Sanitation Grade. The posting of the Sanitation Grade placard is mandatory.
Each Milwaukee Sanitation Grade placard will be required to be placed in a visible place on the establishment’s front window, door, or wall or within 5 feet of the front door or other direct entrance from the street. Placards must be 4 to 6 feet above the ground or floor. If an establishment does not have a direct entrance from the street, they must post the grade near its point of entry, where it is clearly visible to passersby. The Health Inspector will help identify an acceptable place.
Monthly Seal of Excellence Award Winners
Resources for Food Establishments
The establishment of the Milwaukee Sanitation Grading System may come with questions. First and foremost, know that one major thing has not changed: Your routine and regulatory inspections will continue to be based on the existing 2020 Wisconsin Food Code.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) is committed to working with you to protect the health and safety of all local consumers. How can you prepare for an inspection under the Milwaukee Sanitation Grading System?
TALK TO YOUR INSPECTOR. MHD health inspectors and supervisors can help you implement standards and systems to assure that your establishment meets the best food safety standards on a daily basis. Talk to your inspector, or contact the MHD Division of Consumer Environmental Health for a food safety consultation. We are here to help.
CONDUCT A SELF INSPECTION. Use the self-inspection checklists here to conduct your own inspection of your establishment. Download City of Milwaukee Self-Inspection Checklists:
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COPY OF VIOLATION LIBRARY. This document is a complete copy of the violation library and includes the points for each violation. You can check this document to find what your violation points would be. Click Here