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Color-coded placards posted at Oahu restaurants, eateries


Starting on Monday, the state Department of Health is posting new color-coded placards at Oahu restaurants to display health inspection status.

The placards — part of the state’s new “Food Safety Code” that Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law earlier this year — will indicate whether a food establishment has passed its inspection, received a conditional pass, or has been closed due to permit suspension.

There are 10,000 food establishments statewide, which include restaurants, hotels, caterers, markets, food warehouses, convenience stores, food wagons, push carts and institutional kitchens, according to a DOH press release. Approximately 6,000 of these establishments are on Oahu, and 1,800 are on Hawaii island, 1,600 are on Maui and 690 are on Kauai. 

“Hawaii consumers will have more peace of mind about being protected from foodborne illnesses and other health hazards when they’re eating out this summer,” said Gary Gill, deputy director of environmental health, in a statement. “The new food safety rules let consumers know which food establishments have violations and may cause some to think twice about eating at locations where concerns are not being addressed.”

According to Peter Oshiro, environmental health program manager in the Sanitation, Food and Drug and Vector Control Branch of DOH, the new law gives establishments incentive to self-police and correct their violations in a timely manner.  

Green cards indicate that up to one critical violation needed to be corrected at the time of inspection; yellow cards, at least two violations; and red cards will be issued for establishments that need to be immediately closed because they pose an imminent health hazard to the community. 

Health inspectors will typically conduct a follow-up inspection within two days for establishments with yellow cards.

Placards are required to be placed on the outside wall of the establishment, easily visible to patrons. 

The color-coded placard system is based on a Sacramento County award-winning environmental health program.

New health inspections based on the level of risk for foodborne illnesses also get underway on Monday. Risk assessment is based on food handling and preparation procedures.

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