In Virginia, restaurant inspection reports aren't quite as simple as getting a letter grade or an easy to see number rating to post in the front window.
That said, we all want to know how our favorite restaurants stack up on cleanliness and sanitation. Inspectors grade restaurants based on critical and non-critical violations.
A "critical violation" is one that "poses a direct or immediate threat to the safety of the food being served." Non-critical violations are generally related to cleaning or maintenance.
"Ideally, an operation would have no critical violations, or none which are not corrected immediately and not repeated. In our experience, it is unrealistic to expect that a complex, full-service food operation can routinely avoid any violations," according to Virginia Department of Health's website.
The site continues: "Keep in mind that any inspection report is a 'snapshot' of the day and time of the inspection. On any given day, a restaurant could have fewer or more violations than noted in the report. An inspection conducted on any given day may not be representative of the overall, long-term cleanliness of an establishment."