WEST PALM BEACH - When Fran Green hits the road to visit family in other states, she never packs a list of safe places to eat. She does the research at the restaurant's front door.
"They live in states where the sanitation scores are prominently displayed when you walk inside," explained Green.
In some states you'll find a letter grade, and others post a score.
"It helps you make an informed decision," explained Green.
In a state where tourists are the economic engine, there is no requirement to post the score or report.
"I just don't understand why Florida doesn't do this," questioned Green.
You can still find out all those secrets from the kitchen.
"Ask the management. Can I see your last inspection report," said retired restaurant inspector Stephen Schultz.
He spent 24 years inspecting kitchens for the state of Florida, and is now writing about his experiences in a book.
"I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly," explained Schultz.
Florida law says they have to keep their report available for the public to see, but our hidden camera found restaurants breaking the law.
From corporate stores to local chains, forty percent of the restaurants did not show us their last inspection. When we called them about it, two restaurant managers told us they didn't know that was a rule.
"That's absolutely wrong. It's a public record," explained Schultz.
Three stores told us they didn't give the report to customers, and three others told us they didn't have a copy on site.
"Then say ok fine. I won't dine here today," explained Schultz.
While some restaurants are keeping their reports hidden, we found two restaurants who want you to ask for it.
"I can't believe nobody else has the signs," remarked Terri Anderson, Manager of Juno Beach Cafe
Juno Beach Cafe and Toojays are proud of their good scores, and tell you to ask for it. They post signs on their windows.
Anderson said we were the first to ask to see the inspection report.
"Most people don't know," Schultz said. "The public should."
Diners like Green said they don't feel comfortable asking that question.
"They would feel threatened and think this woman is crazy," Green said.
She feels letter grades are a better solution, and so did several legislators who introduced bills to require the grading system.
"I think it would motivate the owners to really be on their game so they don't get a bad score," explained Green.
But even restaurants who say they have nothing to hide, and encourage you to ask for their report don't want letter grades in their windows.
"I find that horrifying for the restaurant owner. That can make or break them," explained Anderson.
Restaurants caught a break. A bill that would have introduced a grading system in Florida died without even being heard.
"I'm not surprised because people like me who care about this are not lobbyists," Green said.
The state agency that inspects kitchens says letter grades provide incomplete information on a restaurant's inspection history leaving it up to you to do your own digging.
We make it easy for you. Just click here to see what's happening inside your favorite kitchen .
Friday at 11, we're exposing the five things you should look for when you walk in a kitchen to find out how clean they keep that kitchen.