The latest restaurant inspections turned up four "B" grades, prompting a discussion about whether the public pays attention to the scores when eating out.
At the Board of Health meeting Wednesday, environmental health director Kevin Whitley shared the most recent findings from inspections made between April 1 and June 30.
Those receiving a "B" grade this go round included Quality Inn breakfast, on South Harding Drive; Jasmine Thai Bistro of Berkeley Blvd.; La Cuata Restaurant on U.S. 117 South; and El Mazatlan on N.C. 55.
All four of the restaurants on the list shared one thing in common -- no food safety training manager on site at the time of the inspection.
Whitley went over some of the violations from each place.
Quality Inn's initial score was 88.5, for having some food temperatures in question. Other infractions included workers not having hair restraints and utensils stored in dirty containers.
The business requested a follow-up visit, raising the grade to 92.5.
Jasmine Thai Bistro earned an 89 on the first inspection and did not request a regrade, Whitley said.
Violations noted on the report included having personal drink items on a work surface rather than a designated area; no paper towels or hand soap in the handwashing sink area; and issues with holding cold foods below the required 45-degree temperature.
La Cuata received an 83.5 on its initial visit and likewise, has not requested a regrade, Whitley said.
Among the issues the business was cited for were workers handling food with bare hands, issues with separating food and cold foods found above recommended temperature.
El Mazatlan's first score was 88.5.
Infractions included handling ready-to-eat foods without gloves, raw foods stored above ready-to-cook foods and temperature issues, both hot and cold.
A request was received for a regrade and the second inspection raised the business score to 96.5.
The report prompted a brief discussion about how the public is affected -- or ignores -- restaurant grades.
"People call and complain about a restaurant and they say, 'You need to do this and do that' and we go in there and get them to correct it," Whitley said. "But if on some items, if they (restaurants) want to keep a 'B,' if they don't want to do the major things that we want, you know, we can't stop them. All we can do is use a grade card.
"It's kind of up to the people to go in and reinforce that -- 'Hey, look, if you've got a 'B' on the wall, I don't want to do business with you.'"
The caveat to that would be some glaring safety infractions, board chairman Bob Cagle pointed out.
Critical safety issues are the exception, and are more enforceable, agreed health director Davin Madden.
But for the lesser violations, things that may fluctuate from day to day, there is little the local officials can do beyond taking points off for it.
That is why it is so important for the public to pay attention to the grade cards on display in all restaurants, Whitley said.
"I'll tell you, as health director, I go out and eat at certain restaurants, selectively," he said. "I always check the grade card."
Not everyone does, though, he pointed out.
"You can imagine -- they go into a restaurant and they never take a moment to even look at the sanitation grade," he said.
He suggested that if more attention is paid by the public, and customers make their concerns known by speaking up or not patronizing a business with lower scores, things might change.