If approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors, a trial would begin in July along with “Go For Green” classes for food facility employees, with full implementation in January 2015.


The interior of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin Civic Center. Photo courtesy Fizbin at the English Wikipedia project.

The County of Marin is proposing a new colored placard system for consumers hoping for more clarity on the food safety inspection results of their favorite restaurants – and for restaurants hoping to tout their stellar food safety scores.

The proposed “Go For Green” program, which heads to the Marin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 3, centers on the placement near a restaurant’s entrance of placards that would mimic a traffic light – green for go (“pass”), yellow for caution (“conditional pass”) or red for stop (“closed”). It’s called the.

“With a glance at the placard, the public will be able to determine whether it is clean and safe to dine in,” Rebecca Ng, Deputy Director of the County’s Environmental Health Services (EHS) Division, said in a statement. “The more interest the public shows in restaurant ratings, the more care the restaurants might show in producing a clean environment with safely prepared food.”

Mandated by the California Retail Food Code, EHS permits and inspects retail food facilities throughout Marin County. In addition to routine inspections, EHS staff responds to health and safety complaints as well as reports of food-borne illness associated with a food facility.

Ng said the public has become more interested in food safety with a desire for more information about health conditions at food facilities. Strong ratings tend to increase customer trust and are considered good for business.

Supervisors will hear the proposed ordinance June 3 and again on June 17 if the board agrees to move it forward. If approved, a trial run would begin in July along with “Go For Green” classes for food facility employees. If all goes well, placards would be visible to consumers starting in January 2015.

The proposed “Go For Green” program would supplement the online posting of food facility inspection reports at the County’s food inspection website. Click here to view the food inspection reports for all 129 of the food-serving businesses in the 94941.  

A new mobile website for smartphones allows Marin users to find out about health inspection track records of a restaurant before they scan a menu and place an order. “When you’re out, the mobile app makes it easy to check this information as if you were at home on a PC or laptop,” Ng said.

 Placard systems are already in place in Sacramento and Alameda counties, and Santa Clara County is considering the system along with Marin. Local food facility owners were invited to a March 2014 meeting to hear about the proposal and provide input. Ng said there is solid support for the placard proposal.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss the proposal at around 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 3, in the board’s chambers, room 330 at the Marin Civic Center. The meeting will be streamed live and archived here.

What do you think of the proposed placard program?  Would you use it as a consumer? Tell us in the Comments below.

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