La Piazza Pizzeria

Outliers

Safety with a smile. The emoji’s value as a replacement for the English language is apparently limitless: A professional critic recently reviewed Noma Japan using nothing but symbols, and a community of dedicated “translators” have re-interpreted the entire Herman Melville classic Moby Dick as—you guessed it—Emoji Dick. Now, in King County, Washington, emojis are replacing restaurant safety ratings, MyNorthwest.com reports. Starting in a month or so, the facial expression cartoons will begin to supplant traditional letter grades in Seattle restaurants. Health officials solicited public votes on the final design decision. There will be no sad or angry faces in the rating system: “needs improvement” is expressed using a straight-line mouth.

The new system was two years in the making, the Seattle Times reports. It aggregates data from four recent inspections instead of reflecting the single most recent grade. Of course, the happy faces already have their detractors. The primary complaint? They oversimplify food safety. :-/

H. Claire Brown

Claire Brown is a staff writer for The New Food Economy focusing on food policy and the environment. Her reporting has won awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York and the New York Press Club. She is based in Brooklyn. She can be reached via email at claire.brown@newfoodeconomy.org or on Twitter at @hclaire_brown.

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