Mar 15, 2016
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Food vendors in Contra Costa County will soon be required to post color-coded signs reflecting information about recent health inspections, after a unanimous vote by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The ordinance affects roughly 4,000 food-vending businesses in the county, including restaurants and grocery stores.

The posted placards, which will reflect a business’ most recent regular inspection, will make it “easy for anyone to know a business’ food safety record, just by looking in the window,” Board Chair Candace Andersen said.

Green placards means zero or one major violation, while yellow means two or more, according to the county. Red placards are used when a business is shut down because of an imminent health hazard, such as a vermin infestation or lack of hot water.

The county depicted serious health violations as unclean or improperly sanitized kitchen equipment, food measured at unsafe temperatures, or workers handling food while ill or with unwashed hands.

Similar placards systems are used in other Bay Area counties and in Sacramento, county officials said.

“Our primary goal is to reduce foodborne illness,” Environmental Health Director Dr. Marilyn Underwood said. “Other cities and counties that use placarding programs have seen a decline.”

Placards will be passed out after April 15, following the next inspections, which occur two to three times per year.

The placards add to an already accessible database of health inspection reports for county businesses, available at or through the county’s free Food Inspector App, downloadable for iOS or Android through Apple’s iTunes Store or Google’s Play Store.

For more information about Contra Costa’s placarding program, visit


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.