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Public grading system proposed for Hawaii eateries

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:21 a.m. HST, Oct 19, 2013

KAILUA-KONA » Finding a safe spot to eat in Hawaii may be as simple as seeing green.

The state health department is proposing posting green, yellow and red placards in restaurants and other establishments to show how they fared in food safety inspections, West Hawaii Today reported today.

In the visible grading system, green placards would mean "pass"; yellow ones, "conditional pass"; and red cards, "closed." A green card will go to facilities that have one major violation or less that's corrected before the inspection is completed. Yellow would be for eateries with two or more violations during an inspection, regardless of whether violations were corrected immediately.

A red card would mean there are imminent health hazards requiring immediate closure.

The department also wants to hire 13 food inspectors. A shortage of workers two years ago meant some Oahu restaurants were inspected only once every 2 Ω years, Sanitation Branch Chief Peter Oshiro said. Some inspectors on Oahu had caseloads of 600 restaurants each; Maui inspectors had about 400 to 500; and Big Island inspectors had about 200.

Randy Botti, lead manager of Sam Choy's Kai Lanai in Kailua-Kona, said a color-coded grading system will help consumers. "It will bring clarity for the customer, but the fleshing out of the details in the inspection need to accompany that to bring clarity to the restaurant establishment, too."

As part of the proposal, state inspection fees would significantly increase. The department is also working on an electronic system to make inspections available online.

"The new food safety rules will mean a huge step forward for our program and will result in overall improvements by expanding food safety testing, pesticide monitoring of local produce and shellfish monitoring, among other activities that protect public health every day," Oshiro said in a statement.

Public hearings will be held in December in Hilo and Kona.

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loio wrote:
but this would take away State funds from further Dan Inouye memorial edifices/expenditures. can't have that.
on October 18,2013 | 09:51AM
HOSSANA wrote:
More damm government intrusion and bureaucracy no matter the intent and purpose of its objective!! Like the food inspectors don't have anything else to do!! People are not stupid and will patronize restaurants according to their needs....let the consumer move the marketplace of eateries whether good, bad, or worse.........i can see these inspectors getting free meals or being loaded with gifts or comps...aka liquor inspectors..........
on October 18,2013 | 10:39AM
awahana wrote:
Decades overdue. Glad to follow the Golden State leadership. Now if we can only get something even remotely similar to Caltrans...
on October 18,2013 | 11:02AM
primo1 wrote:
Our overpriced, inefficient, and underutilized rail will look nothing like Caltrans...if it ever gets built. You're right about following CA though, DOH should've done this years ago.
on October 18,2013 | 11:59AM
Nevadan wrote:
Agree. It can be mearly self-supporting. Restaurants that do not pass sanitation inspection can be closed, until re-inspection with a passing grade. In Las Vegas, re-inspection of the unsanitary restaurant costs approximately $500
on October 18,2013 | 09:59PM
glam99 wrote:
Some places on the mainland make public the scores of the food safety inspections by posting them in plain view in the restaurants. Food safety inspections are a public health issue and posting the scores gives restaurants the incentive to keep their facilities clean and up to standard and gives consumers the necessary information to make informed decisions. A win-win situation in my book.
on October 18,2013 | 11:03AM
cojef wrote:
In mid 80's lived in Houston and during that period the local TV station had a Friday evening news weekly that reported the results of the past weeks restaurant inspections. Like, "slime in the ice machine, unsanitary water temperatures for the dish washers, exposed food products on counters, rat and roach infestations, many others relationinf to food handlings." It was worth noting the name of the eateries.
on October 18,2013 | 11:34AM
Grimbold wrote:
A good idea. But they should close restaurants that are violating repeatedly and lacking hygiene.
on October 18,2013 | 11:12AM
Ratrase wrote:
You mean there isn't such a thing now? It would be good to have some thing to reference on whether or not to eat somewhere other than if you got the runs there the last time.
on October 18,2013 | 11:17AM
Skyler wrote:
It's a positive step. Just think, now you'll know if your neighbor got the runs, too.
on October 18,2013 | 12:15PM
tutulois wrote:
This system works well in other cities -- probably that means it would never work here.
on October 18,2013 | 12:12PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
I see the payoffs starting with inspectors just like they still do over at the liquor commission. Complete waste of tax payer dollars. Can't we all just stick to using Yelp?
on October 18,2013 | 12:35PM
steveoctober wrote:
Must be kidding about Yelp - one of the most biased sites out there. Anything worth reading is hidden away.
on October 18,2013 | 12:49PM
localguy wrote:
Once again dysfunctional bureaucrats strike again. A color system? Really? Why not use one already in place for decades and recognized by millions of people? Grades A, B, C are the standard in many states. But noooo, Nei bureaucrats waste time and money to come up with a color code. Colors can easily blend in to the background, not universally recognized. Just like when airport bureaucrats put the wrong fonts and colors on the signs, failing to stay with standards used at all airports, it was a fiasco. Here we go again.
on October 18,2013 | 02:13PM
AniMatsuri wrote:
A long time ago we did have grade system with the grade displayed out front. Whatever happened to that?
on October 18,2013 | 02:50PM
kauai wrote:
Notice that like the "new" electronic vehicle safety check system, this food safety proposal will "significantly increase" the inspection fee. Why is it that any time there is an enhancement to any government-connected activity here, there is a fee or tax increase to accompany the enhancement? Last time I checked, technology and technology items tend to make prices and costs DECREASE with new enhancements (to wit, PC prices, TV prices, pick a tech product price). Seems like yet another example of the politicians and bureaucrats attempting to increase taxes (a rose by any other name) by increasing "fees". Sickening.
on October 18,2013 | 03:04PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
More bureaucracy mean more taxes to the already struggling folks who cannot even afford to visit restaurants. Why don't they just post the inspection results on the window of the restaurant in full view? A color coding system is unnecessary and a waste of resources. Just post the report card and let the consumers decide. As far as increasing the staff to be able to inspect the restaurants, the tax should directly be coming from those who frequent restaurants. Many, like myself, find the costs of food at restaurants to be outrageous. Obviously we have a lot of rich people on the islands because if you pass by many pricey restaurants, you will see a lot of customers. Instead of putting the tax to cover the cost of the increased personnel needed to inspect restaurants on the general population they should add a tax on restaurant food. It is simply unfair to those who do not even go to restaurants to have to pay to cover this cost. I know that it is unpopular to add a tax to luxuries like restaurant food but we all know that they will need to increase their personnel to do a more sufficient inspection. If not, the restaurants should pay a yearly fee to cover the cost of food inspectors. But at the same time we need to ensure that proper procedures and auditing are in place otherwise increased personnel will only mean more costs but no significant increase in services.
on October 18,2013 | 10:20PM
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