This July will mark three years since the state started issuing placards to restaurants as part of its food safety program.
A green placard means it passed inspection, a yellow one means two or more major violations and there needs to be a follow-up inspection, and a red placard means the place is shut down due to health risks.
Since July 2014, only three eateries in Hawaii have ever received a red placard, and all three were issued on Oahu during 2015. No restaurants received a red placard in 2016.
*Statistics from July-December only. See neighbor island breakdowns at bottom of post.
“That’s an amazing success that I attribute to my staff,” said Peter Oshiro, who oversees the food safety program for the Hawaii Department of Health. “The things we see all the time are personal hygiene issues, people not washing their hands properly, so we’ve seen great improvement in that.”
He’s also seen an improvement in restaurants keeping the food at the proper temperature.
“When we first started this program, about a third of our restaurants were getting yellow placards, which means they had multiple major violations during routine inspections,” Oshiro said. “That number has steadily fallen so statewide. We’re at about 20 percent now, so we think that’s a significant reduction in the amount of foodborne illness risk factors out there.”
When asked if fewer people reported getting sick after eating out, Oshiro replied: “That we have not really seen a major correlation to and that’s a deceiving number also, because a good example would be the hepatitis A outbreak that we recently had. There’s nothing really that would have shown up as a violation that would have caused that outbreak. So the food came in contaminated. It was eaten raw.”
You can look up online what color placard a restaurant received, and view the inspection report as well. The state launched that website last April.
“I think when the establishments know that their inspection results are going to be put out quote-unquote on the web for everybody to see at any time, I think there’s a lot of impetus for them to make sure they’re also self-monitoring themselves so they don’t end up with major violations,” Oshiro said.
*Statistics from July-December only.