DOH: Food Establishment Inspections CompletedDecember 14, 2015, 3:01 PM HST (Updated December 14, 2015, 3:03 PM)
Hawai’i Department of Health Sanitation Branch personnel conducted food establishment inspections at more than 10,000 locations across the state, including 1,800 on the Big Island.
In July 2014, the branch launched the usage of the tri-color placard system for restaurants, hotels, caterers, food warehouses, markets, convenience stores, lunch wagons, push carts, and institutional kitchens for healthcare facilities, preschools, elementary schools, adult and child day care centers, and prisons.
The Big Island has seven DOH inspectors in the field, out of 45 statewide. Thirty of the inspectors are on Oahu, while another four are on Maui County and three on Kauai.
“Consumers now look for the green placards posted as validation that their favorite eating spots are protected from foodborne illnesses and other health hazards,” said Peter Oshiro, who oversees DOH’s inspection program. “The good news is that the majority of Hawai’i’s establishments are in compliance with the state’s food safety code.”
Placards colored green are issued to establishments that do not have more than one critical violation that needs to be corrected. Yellow card are for establishments that have two or more violations deemed critical. Red placards are used for those food establishments that need to be immediately closed because they post an imminent health hazard to the community.
Since the onset of the program, only three red placards have been issued. All three of those violations were met with monetary fines, the suspension of their permit and a temporary closure.
Yellow placards were issued to 2,105 establishments, requiring the businesses to address violations.
“We’ve found that those establishments that received yellow placards are motivated to address any shortcomings and change their practices to come into compliance,” Oshiro said. “The average time for corrections is two to three days.
“There has been a voluntary compliance rate of over 99.8% for those food facilities that were issued a yellow placard. This confirms that the placarding program has been a huge success in terms of influencing rapid and voluntary correction of food safety violations,” according to Oshiro.
“The Department of Health has long recognized that litigating solutions through permit suspensions and the levying of fines is counter-productive and time consuming when compared with voluntary compliance, which is truly a win-win-win outcome for the regulatory agency, the food facilities, and most importantly, public health, by reducing the public’s exposure to food illness risk factors,” said Oshiro.
A total of 1,700 establishments in Maui County were also inspected, along with 6,000 on Oahu and another 690 on Kauai.
According to Oshiro, some mobile food service establishments may not have been inspected yet. Eateries without a placard should be reported to the DOH by calling 586-8000 so that an inspection can be scheduled.