Inspection placards may come to restaurants outside C-U

Inspection placards may come to restaurants outside C-U

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign County Board members may revisit the issue of mandating a color-coded food service inspection program in areas outside of Champaign-Urbana.

Last November, the county board voted down, 11-9, a plan mandating that all restaurants, schools, food stores, day cares and other places outside the two cities that serve food be required to display a public health placard of either green (satisfactory compliance), yellow (reinspection required) or red (closed).

The system, which is mandated in Champaign-Urbana, is being done on a voluntary basis outside of the two cities. A recent survey of 170 food service establishments outside of Champaign-Urbana found that 51 percent were voluntarily following the system.

And county board of health members said Tuesday they were heartened by results that showed that establishments that voluntarily complied generally got better inspection scores.

Those that posted their health inspection placards got average scores of 88 versus scores of 74 for those that did not post the placards, said Jim Roberts, the environmental health director for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

Roberts will present the results of his six-month study to the county board Thursday night.

County board chairman Al Kurtz said he hopes to bring the issue back to the board in September.

"It's pretty astounding to me," said Kurtz, a Champaign Democrat. "I'm going to see, if I can get enough votes, if I can get it back on the agenda again in September. I'll see what the response is from the board on Thursday."

Kurtz said he found it telling that health inspection scores generally were better for those businesses that posted their color-coded placards.

"Those that were voluntarily using the placards had much better scores than those that did not, and it was a significant difference," he said. "For me, it shows that those that want to keep their customers happy and safe are using the placards as a way to show their customers that they're doing just that."

Roberts said establishments in the county that followed the placard program "performed significantly better on all measures of performance and outcome. They had fewer total violations, fewer total number of risk factor violations, fewer repeat violations and higher scores."

Health district Administrator Julie Pryde said she believes the health inspection placard system, which started Jan. 1, is working well.

"I think it came out to be a really useful tool, rather than just slapping up a letter or a smiley face or even a raw score, because between counties, those are meaningless," she said. "i think this is actually a meaningful system."

Stan James, a Rantoul Republican who serves on both the county board and the county board of health, said he also wants another county board vote on requiring the placards.

"There are a couple people on my side of the aisle that have said that they would probably support it this go-around," said James, who was one of only two Republicans to vote in November for a mandatory placard program in the county. "One of my cohorts strongly opposes this. We've had talks and he feels like it's an intrusion. His comment is that whatever government gets into, we seem to mess it up. But I think with these results it will help."

The county board of health has already endorsed the idea, and several board members reiterated that stance Tuesday although no vote was taken.

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787 wrote on August 20, 2014 at 8:08 am

I don't think any issue has ever moved slower.  It took the Public Health district about five years to think about, think, think, and then think some more... before ever implementing this.  Now the County Board isn't getting in any sort of a big hurry either.

I wouldn't want anyone to rush this issue...  This is only the food we eat.

Molly1 wrote on August 20, 2014 at 11:08 am

Is it just me, or are these even being posted in Champaign Urbana?

I have been in several restaurants in the area in the last six months, and I don't believe that I have ever seen one.

Weren't they required to be placed in an obvious spot?  Like on the front door?  Right by the cash register?  At the Drive Up window? Or are all businesses just tucking them away in a book somewhere that the public can not see?

JRR wrote on August 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Quoting from the News-Gazette's story dated December 10, 2013, 

"They'll get the cards and the guidelines about how to post these signs," Jim Roberts, environmental health director for the health district, told the three-member C-U Public Heath District board Monday. "By the end of the week we should have everything printed and then we'll start to assemble it and get it out."

"The biggest question among food service operators so far, [Jim Roberts, environmental health director for the health district] said, is how and where to display the placards. The placard must be in a visible place, on an outside window or at a window within 5 feet of the main entrance."


JRR wrote on August 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Molly, where do you eat? I can't think of a restaurant or bar I've visited in the last several months that doesn't have one posted next to the front door.

Molly1 wrote on August 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Wow, trying to think.

Panda Express on North Neil

Steak and Shake on North Neil

Outback Steakhouse on North Neil

McD's on Cunningham

Cracker Barrel

Taco Bell


Toro Loco on Cunningham

El Toro

Quite a bit of the time I order only from the Drive through, but I am sure that I have been in each of those restaurants in the last six months.

welive wrote on August 20, 2014 at 4:08 pm

just wonderin why is it if its the same health dept that checks both citys and the county why didnt thay make everyone in the county start this last year?

and i didnt know el toro and outback had a drive thru?


Sid Saltfork wrote on August 21, 2014 at 10:08 am

The county residents know their local food establishment.  You are right with your statement: "why didnt thay make everyone in the county start this last year?"   What other ideas emulating in C-U should be enforced on the county?  Maybe bike paths?