Walker’s Board Bans Food Safety Ratings of Restaurants

November 30, 2018

A state consumer protection board appointed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker has sided with the restaurant industry to prohibit local governments from using grading systems to tell the public about restaurant food safety.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Board voted 4-2 earlier this month to approve a proposed state rule to prohibit local governments from using grades or scores based on restaurant inspection reports. The DATCP Board is made up of farm and food industry representatives.

The vote ends the City of Milwaukee’s new food grading system, which could increase the incidents of foodborne illnesses, critics say.

“In my view, what happened at the hearing was all about power and money trumping local voices and local wishes,” Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy said Thursday.

The new rule, which must be approved by Walker and the legislature, was supported by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. The group said food grades and scores are opposed by restaurants and do not adequately warn consumers about the risk of foodborne illnesses at a particular establishment.

Walker’s campaign received $20,800 in individual contributions through the restaurant association’s conduit and $17,000 from the association’s political action committee between January 2011 and December 2017.

Overall, tavern and restaurant owners and employees have contributed nearly $1.4 million to legislative and statewide candidates, including about $445,800 to Walker, between January 2011 and December 2017.