July 3, 2014

Trial period over – yellow placards could be coming to a restaurant near you

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A draft version of a reinspection notice. Public health officials are drafting ordinances that would require food establishments to post a color-coded placard that indicates the results of each health inspection. Yellow means the food establishment failed its health inspection with an adjusted score below 36 and but can remain open pending a reinspection within 30 days.

Contributed/Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

A draft version of a reinspection notice. Public health officials are drafting ordinances that would require food establishments to post a color-coded placard that indicates the results of each health inspection. Yellow means the food establishment failed its health inspection with an adjusted score below 36 and but can remain open pending a reinspection within 30 days.

By Claire Everett/CU-CitizenAccess.org — Between January and May, 32 restaurants in Champaign-Urbana failed health inspections.

Diners still had no easy way of knowing if a restaurant failed – until last week.

Despite the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District’s new requirement in January that restaurants post yellow placards if they failed their inspections, the district decided to allow a six-month grace period.

That meant even restaurants that failed were able to make corrections during the inspection and post a green placard indicating they passed. In a few cases, restaurants failed so badly they shut down and had to post a red placard.

The new color-coded placard system began in Champaign-Urbana on Jan. 1 and required restaurants and food establishments within the twin cities to post placards in a prominent place.

Under the new system, a green placard means a passing inspection score of 36 or above, a yellow placard means a failing score of 35 to 0 that requires a re-inspection, and a red placard means the restaurant was closed because of a score of 0 or below until it raises its scores. The highest score a restaurant can get is 100.

“The system of using the yellow inspection notices that are labeled re-inspection required has been implemented starting July 1, 2014, in the Champaign Urbana Public Health District jurisdiction,” Roberts said.

As of July 3, Jim Roberts, environmental health director for Champaign-Urbana, said no yellow placards have been issued thus far.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District conducts health inspections at food establishments and restaurants throughout Champaign County and within Champaign and Urbana.  The health district board voted last year to make inspection results publicly displayed on placards. The county board, however, voted against it.

If you are dining out in Champaign-Urbana and see a yellow placard, please take a photo and email it to restaurants@cu-citizenaccess.org with your name, name of the restaurant, address of restaurant and date taken.