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State health officials fine bubble tea shop in Moiliili for removing yellow placard

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The state Health Department has fined a bubble tea shop at Puck’s Alley in Moiliili $2,000 for unlawfully and intentionally removing a yellow placard, which stands for a conditional pass, from their facility.

Health officials fined Maggie Feng, doing business as Shaka Shaka Tea Express at 2600 S. King St., for the violation.

On Sept. 24, health officials issued Shaka a yellow placard for four critical violations cited during a routine inspection. Two days later, a state health inspector who went to the shop for a follow-up inspection observed that the placard had been removed.

“The public has a right to know when violations occur during inspections at local food establishments for their own health and safety, which is why placard removal is a serious public trust violation with substantial consequences,” said Peter Oshiro, environmental health program manager, in a news release. “Since the start of the new placarding program, we’ve seen excellent compliance with the food industry; this is only the sixth incident involving tampering with a placard.”

Hawaii state law only allows authorized Hawaii Department of Health agents to post or remove a color-coded placard, indicating the compliance status of a food establishment.

The company currently has 20 days to request a hearing to contest the notice.

Since the state’s restaurant placarding program was launched in 2014, the state Health Department ‘s Food Safety Program has conducted more than 40,000 inspections, and issued over 6,500 yellow placards for multiple major food safety violations. Of that total, only six have resulted in red “closed” placards due to repeated non-compliance.

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