A new motion to force restaurants to publish their food inspection results on their front doors just passed unanimously through city hall this week. The intricacies of the new law still need to be ironed out, but Montreal will most likely use a lettered grading system.
Grades of 'A', 'B', or 'C', just like in many American cities, might be gracing the front of many Montreal restaurants as early as this year. The grades would have to be prominently displayed for customers, improving transparency between the restaurant and the client.
Toronto uses a similar system. Montreal, out of all the major foodie cities in North America, has long lagged behind on this provision, which makes no sense considering that Montreal is home to roughly 14,000 restaurants. With only 31 food inspectors, it's about time that diners know what they're getting into before eating out.
TL;DR Montreal restaurants will now be forced to display their food inspection results as early as this year. City hall unanimously voted in the law this week. It's still unclear how they'll begin to implement this law. Precise details will be released in the coming months.
Cities like New York, which has long had a lettered grading system, show immensely positive results when it comes to food and restaurant quality.
A bad rating can indeed hurt a restaurant's reputation, but considering how many Montreal restaurants low-key have negative inspection results, this will only help potential customers make better decisions.
Under the current structure of the Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (MAPAQ), it is extremely difficult to consult food inspection ratings. You have to access the MAPAQ website and then investigate this map to find a specific food rating.
Some critics say that having a simple letter grading system is too simplistic and doesn't accurately convey the details of restaurant inspections.
According to the Montreal Gazette, food-safety violations between 2017 and 2018 spiked by 43%. Restaurants paid roughly $850,000 in fines in that one-year period alone.
Restaurant owners in Montreal have a responsibility to their clients to provide a sanitary and respectable dining environment. Therefore, it's not unreasonable for diners to expect the best.
The city will ultimately make the decision on how to present food inspection ratings, no matter when the law is put in place.