State health officials proposing food sanitation rating program

Published On: Oct 18 2013 06:55:31 PM HST


Rico Rico -- serving up Peruvian chicken -- just opened its doors in Moiliili this summer.

It is one of 10,000 eateries across the state subject to spot inspections.

 "I like to try new places if it has a green light. It’s good to know it has been inspected. It gives me peace of mind to know that it might be a good place to try," said Joshua Weissman.

Owner Carlos Jimenez was proud to report Rico Rico passed muster with inspectors this week.

He is all for the new placard program."I think it’s a great thing. It’s going to raise the sanitation standards and hygiene and keep the quality up. We are hoping to get the seal of approval all the time and keep the standards high," Jimenez said.

"Any place that sells food in any shape or form in the state of Hawaii has to get a permit from us. So this will apply to mobile units, convenience stores, five-star restaurants, grocery stores ... everybody," said Peter Oshiro, the state health department’s food safety program manager.

Under the plan, businesses will get a green display card if they have no major violations and are good to go, yellow -- if they pass with conditions and red if they flunk.

Oshiro says the state will use standards set by the Centers for Disease Control for hygiene, temperature control and sanitation.

"We felt the green, yellow, red placard would fit Hawaii the best. It's really zero tolerance. So rather than give an B  or C and get away  with doing less than everyone else, to get a green placard, all major violations have been corrected," Oshiro said.

Rico Rico workers know their business is a two way street.

 If they want to keep customers coming back, they have to work at it.

 “You are their paying customer. They should be taking care of you in keeping high quality and clean facilities," said Matt Lomkewitz.

With food safety now a high priority, the state says soon you'll be able to check food safety inspections reports online.

 The new proposed rules will mean a hike in permit fees for the various establishments from the current $49 up to $200.

But the state says it’s the first hike in 15 years. The money will help fund new inspectors.

The state plans to hold hearings on the proposed program in December.






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