Inspections begin soon for new restaurant ratings

Hank’s has been turning hot dogs in Kakaako for six years.

From the look of it, the restaurant is pretty clean.

Starting on Monday, the Department of Health will begin its inspections for its new food safety rating program. Inspectors will be visiting all food establishments across the state including lunch wagons, convenience stores, fast-food stops, and even resort kitchens.

“We’ve made a commitment to industry that we’ll visit all of their establishments prior to rolling out these rules to make sure that everybody’s on the same page,” said Peter Oshiro of the Department of Health.

But Hank says he’s not worried.

“I don’t think there’s anything that I would prepare for. I mean, we follow all the health codes as they are. So it’s like fine. That would be a good checkup for us, but not a problem,” said Hank Adeniya, owner of Hank’s Haute Dogs.

Health officials are calling it a stop-light system. The green placard means the establishment has one major health violation or less. The yellow placard means there are two or more major violations and would need a follow-up inspection. The red placard means it’s been shut down due to health risks.

“So this makes it very easy for the public to know that an inspection was recently done at this facility and these are the results that we found,” Oshiro said.

The program is based on similar initiatives in Toronto and Sacramento.

“So this is not something that we’re trying to re-invent the wheel. It’s a tried and true program that is tested out and showed fantastic results,” Oshiro said.

Health officials say the goal of the program is transparency.

“For industry, I think it gives the public a very strong sense of confidence that the facilities that they’re eating at are following all the necessary rules and regulations that will keep them from contracting food borne illnesses,” Oshiro said.

Customers say they’re glad Hawaii is jumping on board.

“But here in Hawaii, I think it will help out big time, especially with all the tourists out here. It will help know where to go and where to eat at and it will make their business grow also,” said customer Pele Bennett.

The placards will go up once every food establishment is inspected, hopefully beginning in June.

Related story: Hawaii restaurants to face new food safety ratings

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