FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2014
Board of Supervisors Votes to Implement Restaurant ”Placarding/Scoring” Program
and Online Reporting to Improve Food Safety
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal for restaurant “placarding/scoring” and online reporting of health inspection results at its meeting earlier this morning.
Santa Clara County routinely inspects thousands of restaurants and other food service facilities for food safety, but up until now the general public has had little access to this information.
“Right now,” said Simitian, “when you walk into a restaurant, about all you know for sure from a health and safety standpoint is that it hasn’t been bad enough to get closed down. And if nobody knows you’re ‘just barely good enough,’ then there’s no real incentive to do better.”
The new program consists of:
• Posting color-coded placards - Green (Pass), Yellow (Conditional Pass), or Red (Fail/Closed) – at all restaurants;
• Posting complete and detailed inspection results on the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) website, including all violations; and,
• Posting an easy-to-understand online score (1 – 100) of health inspection results.
Food borne illness is a major public health issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, roughly one in six Americans (or more than 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.
Just this past week, the CDC reported that while there was a modest decrease in Salmonella infections last year, illnesses from other foodborne bacteria shot up by as much as 32 percent.
Simitian began working to improve food safety and increase public access to the information gathered by the County's Department of Environmental Health more than 13 years ago. While previously serving as a Supervisor in 2000, the Board approved his proposal for Internet posting of health inspection results; but the Board’s action was never fully implemented.
“In fact,” said Simitian, “when I returned to the Board in 2013, I discovered that we’d actually gone backwards in terms of our online disclosure efforts. I’m glad we’re finally poised to make progress, even if it’s coming 13 years later.”
In Simitian’s view, “This is pretty straightforward. If the results of our health inspections are readily available, then local restaurants have an added incentive to improve food safety, and local consumers have the information they need to make informed choices.”