With the ten-year anniversary of the Green, Yellow, Red Placard program, the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department (EMD) is celebrating putting food safety first in the minds of the dining public and food operators.
Although the color-coded food safety placard program has been successfully running for ten years, the journey began long before 2007. In 2002 operators were required to post their health inspection reports in public view which was a good first step in disclosing inspection results. Inspection reports can be complex, and disclosure of inspection results was simplified and improved when the Board of Supervisors approved a local ordinance requiring the posting of a green, yellow or red (GYR) placard at the front entrance of food establishments following each inspection. EMD conducts routine inspections up to three times a year at food establishments including restaurants, retail markets, schools, bakeries and bars to ensure food safety and health code compliance.
“One of the most successful aspects of the placard program is its simplicity. The inspector issues a green, yellow or red placard based on the number of major violations that can cause or contribute to foodborne illness. This system provides an instant message to consumers about the establishment’s food safety inspection results and compliance with state and local food safety laws,” said Val Siebal, EMD Director.
A green or “PASS” placard signifies a satisfactory level of compliance for food safety practices. A yellow or “CONDITIONAL PASS” placard is posted when there are two or more major violations, and the establishment will be re-inspected within 72 hours to ensure compliance. A red or “CLOSED” placard is posted when an imminent health hazard is observed and the establishment will remain closed until the issue has been resolved and the establishment passes a re-inspection.
In addition to the GYR placard program, several other enhancements contributed to the success of the EMD food inspection program. Mandatory Food Safety Education or “Food School” is an important part of EMD’s educational outreach efforts and is taught in seven languages as well as being available in four languages on the “How to Get a Green” DVD. EMD also hosts the annual Food Safety Awards of Excellence which recognizes food operators that consistently demonstrate high levels of food safety during their routine inspections. Additionally, EMD has made inspection results available on the EMD website and through its Sac Food mobile device app – available through Apple and Android – that offers access to complete inspection reports anytime and anywhere. Most recently, the crowd-sourced review website, Yelp, began posting the GYR placard inspection results next to food facility reviews.
Over the last ten years, the County’s color-coded GYR placard system has become nationally recognized. Jurisdictions throughout California and the U.S. have been adopting similar color-coded placard systems after observing the positive results of the Sacramento County GYR program.
“EMD continues to make improvements in the food safety program to enhance the health and well-being of Sacramento County residents and visitors. For 2017, we look forward to Mobile Food Trucks displaying the Green, Yellow, Red Placards,” said Val Siebal, EMD Director.
GYR Placards Improve Food Safety
Statistics from 2007 compared with 2016 indicates that EMD’s GYR Placard program has had a positive impact on the retail food industry and its consumers. Over the last ten years there has been a decline in observed major violations.
|2007||2016 (as of 12/31/16)|
|Total Routine Placard inspections: 10,124||Total Routine Placard inspections: 14,503|
|Green Placards: 88%||Green Placards: 93%|
|Yellow Placards: 11%||Yellow Placards: 6%|
|Red Placards: 1%||Red Placards: 1%|
Learn more about food facility inspection reports, the food protection program and how to report foodborne illness on the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department website and stay connected on the EMD Facebook page.