Ever wonder who issues the red, yellow or green placard posted near the main entrance at every restaurant or food facility in Sacramento County? The placards are part of the Environmental Management Department’s (EMD) Retail Food Protection Program. They represent the County’s ongoing commitment to help businesses succeed while also providing a safe environment for their customers.
A member of EMD’s team of thirty inspectors examines each food facility in the county two to three times per year for a total of more than 13,000 annual inspections. Together, the team speaks 11 languages and provides training and outreach to Sacramento’s rapidly growing food and dining industry. The department’s award-winning smart phone app, Sac Food, maps nearby restaurants, shows the color of their placards and allows customers to review inspection reports.
“EMD helps restaurants and the community as a whole by promoting and enforcing food safety in Sacramento County,” said Supervising Environmental Specialist Zarha Ruiz. “Our inspectors travel in the field daily to educate our operators and prevent food borne illness.”
As part of its mission, EMD provides support and training to the local restaurant community. The Food Safety Training program offers safety education classes for food workers at the low price of $20 per person and a free “How to Get a Green Placard” course which can also be viewed online. EMD hosts the Retail Food Industry Working Group. This group meets once a month to discuss safety issues related to the retail food industry in Sacramento County. Plus, EMD makes it easy for business owners to renew permits online, via mail or in person. They have five staff members who assist customers with the plan review process.
The County also celebrates successful restaurants in our community. EMD runs the annual Awards of Excellence in Food Safety. In 2013, the award program recognized 595 restaurants that exhibited excellent food safety and sanitation standards during their recent routine inspections. The department Facebook page frequently posts about new restaurants that are newly permitted and ready to open. Nearly 50 restaurants open each year in Sacramento County.
“Our department works with industry and our stakeholders towards the shared goal of creating successful businesses,” said Ruiz, “We help them through education and inspection processes to ensure they serve safe food to their customers.”
For more information visit the EMD webpage or Facebook page.