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Food Facility Placarding and Scoring Program

Last modified: 4/24/2015 2:23 PM
Over the last year the County of Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health (DEH) conducted a Feasibility Study for a food service grading and placarding (posting) program.  The goal was to determine the suitability of a grading and placarding system in our community, and what the system should look like.  Some factors that were evaluated included:
1. Will it help to reduce foodborne illness?
2. Can a system have a clear, objective grading system that will be useful to both consumers and restaurant operators?
3. Will the system be suitable to our diverse community and food practices?
4. What will it cost to implement the new grading and placarding system? 
What Types of Food Facilities are Subject to the Placarding and Scoring Program?
Only food facilities that prepare food are subject to the placarding and scoring program. They include but are not limited to restaurants (fast food to full scale), school cafeterias, coffee shops, café’s, bakeries, deli’s, and corporate cafeterias. Mobile food facilities (i.e. food trucks and carts), caterers, and limited food activities will be included in the future. If you have any questions regarding the applicability of the placarding and scoring program to a certain type of business, please contact us at
Feasibility Study Completed

The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) completed the feasibility study for a Restaurant Grading/Placarding Program in December 2013.  With the assistance of core stakeholders, a restaurant grading/placarding system modeled on Sacramento County’s Green-Yellow-Red grading system was selected.  The Sacramento County Model emphasizes critical risk factors of food-borne illness, poses a lower cost to businesses, and is easy for the public to understand. Minor violations that do not pose an imminent health hazard will be addressed using the Department’s existing protocols.
In order to inform food operators and the public about the proposal, DEH issued press releases and conducted interviews in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese.  Newspaper articles, as well as television and radio news reports announced the placarding proposal and notified stakeholders as to where restaurant operators and the public could find more information. During October 2013, seventeen food operator workshops and three public meetings were conducted. Over 100 people attended to learn about the options.
Please click here to see the final Advisory Group presentation.

Final Board of Supervisors Approval
On April 29, 2014 the Board of Supervisor’s approved the DEH recommendation to implement a comprehensive new restaurant placarding and scoring system. Click HERE to read the board agenda item.
The new Restaurant Placarding/Scoring System includes posting colored placards (green, yellow, red) at food facilities and detailed inspection results with numerical compliance scores online.
The County of Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health (DEH) hosted public workshops for consumers and business owners during the month of September, 2014. The goal of the workshops was to introduce our new Food Facility Placarding & Scoring system; review the new Food Facility Inspection Results website; and provide information on the meaning of the color placard and compliance score.  The workshops were presented in five languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.
DEH is currently providing free, 1.5-hour "How to get a Green Placard" classes each month at the DEH office, and other locations throughout the county. In addition, we have partnered with the Silicon Valley Small Business Development Center who will provide a 1.0-hour “Managing Negative Reviews” workshop. For the current course schedule – please click HERE. Registration is required. Please click on the following link to register for a workshop:
From July 1, 2014 through September 30, 2014, DEH performed "Field Trials" during routine inspections to assess the new placarding and scoring system, educate its inspectors, and make necessary adjustments.  Facility operators were informed of what placard and score would have been issued, however no placard was posted at the facility prior to October 1, 2014. Placards will be posted by inspectors for routine inspections performed after October 1, 2014. DEH anticipates posting the first placard at food preparation facilities over the next twelve months.
Please check back frequently for updates on the rollout, the new Food Facility Inspection Results website, and updates to the workshop schedule.  A new e-mail newsletter has also been implemented, and will serve to provide timely updates on the new food facility placarding and scoring program.  Click HERE to access the newsletter update, and HERE to subscribe to the e-mail.
If you have any questions please contact us at