Contra Costa County uses a color-coded placarding system to publicly report the results of food safety inspections and food safety practices at fixed retail food facilities.
Beginning in April 2019, mobile food facilities that prepare, cook or heat food will also receive a placard at the conclusion of a field inspection.
Placarding requirements apply to all fixed retail food facilities except cottage food operations, vending machines, temporary food events, certified farmers' markets and farm stands.
The green, yellow and red placards are issued and posted by Contra Costa Environmental Health, and are intended to help customers easily understand a business's food safety record and raise awareness about critical food safety risk factors.
Anyone can request to see a copy of a facility's most recent inspection report from the facility.
You can also find inspection reports for fixed facilities, or by using Contra Costa County's Food Inspector App. Inspection scores and descriptions of violations for mobile facilities are also available.
For more information, call Contra Costa Environmental Health at 925-608-5500.
Placards document any food safety concerns found by an Environmental Health inspector at the time of the last inspection (routine or re-placarding inspection), and the inspection date.
The placard usually will be posted near the main entrance, facing outward, or at the point of sale. Only Environmental Health staff may legally post, remove or move placards at a fixed food facility. Tampering may result in suspension or revocation of an operator's permit.
A mobile food facility must post its placard when operating in Contra Costa County.
Any major problems found during an inspection must be corrected immediately, in the presence of the inspector, or the business must close until they are fixed.
- GREEN means Pass
A green placard means that no more than one major violation was observed during the facility's most recent inspection (routine or re-placarding inspection).
- YELLOW means Conditional Pass
A yellow placard means that two or more major violations were observed during the facility's most recent inspection (routine or re-placarding inspection).
- RED means Closed
A red placard means the facility is closed because of food safety violations that pose imminent health hazard.
- PLACARD PENDING
This placard means a fixed facility is new or has undergone a change of ownership and has not yet been inspected. A Placard Pending will also be posted when a closed facility reopens after correcting an imminent health hazard.
A Placard Pending for a mobile food facility means a routine, unannounced inspection has not yet occurred in the calendar year.
Maintaining the placard is the permit holder's responsibility. If the placard is missing or altered, they must call 925-608-5500 within 24 hours to request a new one.
- GREEN means Pass
Any permit holder with major violations must correct them while the inspector is present, or else close the facility. A closed facility must be re-inspected before reopening.
Any facility that receives a Conditional Pass (yellow) placard during a routine inspection will receive a replacarding inspection within 10 business days.
If a yellow placard is issued at the re-placarding inspection, that placard will remain until the next scheduled routine inspection.
Operators will not be billed for their first re-placarding inspections, or for their first re-inspections to verify compliance, of each permit year. Mobile food facility permit is valid between January 1- December 31 and a fixed food facility permit is valid between March 1 to February 28.
Thereafter, re-inspections and replacarding inspections will be charged at Environmental Health's standard hourly rate.
Criteria used for placarding of fixed food facilities are described by the first 22 items on Contra Costa's routine inspection form, excluding No. 4, 6, 12 and 18.
Criteria used for placarding of mobile food facilities are described by the first 20 items on the Mobile Food Facility routine inspection form, excluding No. 1, 4 and 16.
They are based on the critical risk factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to prevent foodborne illness.
Violations observed in these categories will be summarized on the facility's placard, and the total number of major violations in these categories will determine its color.
Certain violations will result in immediate closure of a food facility. A closed facility receives a red placard and may not reopen until a subsequent re-inspection clears it to do so.
Permit holders that receive yellow placards after inspection will receive on-site food safety education from their inspector and training materials, including a "How to Get a Green" video. The video is available in several languages.
If a facility receives two consecutive yellow placards, the permit holder must schedule and pay for a food safety refresher course for the staff and operator.
If a facility receives three consecutive yellow placards, a compliance conference with an Environmental Health supervisor is required to review violations, documentation of corrections, and the facility's policies to mitigate food safety issues.
If a facility receives four consecutive yellow placards, an administrative hearing to consider suspension or revocation of an operator's permit will be scheduled.
Food Safety Excellence Awards
Food Safety Excellence Awards are issued yearly to food facilities that have demonstrated outstanding food safety and sanitation standards during their recent health inspections. These food establishments who qualified have passed at least three routine inspections during the past two years without any major violations.
To recognize the outstanding achievement these establishments have attained, recipients are awarded a special window decal to be displayed at their facility. New recipients will be notified by mail at the start of each year. Please look for these decals and join us in thanking these owners and operators for providing clean and safe food for the community.
- Current Awards: 2017-2018 Food Safety Excellence Award Recipients
- Press Release: Contra Costa County Honors Local Businesses for Food Safety
- How to Get a Green posters:
- Dec. 7, 2015 Letter to Permit Holders
- Press Release: Health Inspection Signs for Restaurants, Grocers
- April 15, 2016 Letter to Permit Holders
- Press Release: Health Inspection Signs Coming to Mobile Food Vendors
Food Safety Refresher Training
Pre-registration is required for the training. Send a list of food employee(s) names to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive an email confirmation. When a class is filled, you will be asked to choose another session. Please do not attend a training unless you receive an email confirmation.
Please note, in order to ensure that we have an accurate understanding who is attending, an identification is needed for each food employee when they check in at the training. We keep this information confidential.
All trainings occur at 2120 Diamond Boulevard, Suite 200.
It is a two-hour training, participants must be present for the entire time period, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.
All participants are asked to arrive at 8:45 a.m.
All food employees must attend.
The food facility will be invoiced $20/employee.
Date Class October 2 Spanish October 9 English October 16 Chinese October 23 Spanish October 30 English November 6 Spanish November 7 English/Thai interpreter November 13 Chinese November 20 English November 27 English/Korean Interpreter December 4 Spanish December 5 Vietnamese December 11 English December 18 Chinese
- Sick employee handling food, or employee demonstrating lack of knowledge of safe food handling
- Food handler not handwashing appropriately
- Food measured at unsafe temperatures
- Facility and its equipment unclean or not properly sanitized
- Food not from approved sources
- Employee diagnosed with a communicable disease
- No safe drinking water available at the facility
- No hot water in hand wash, food preparation or utensil washing sinks
- Vermin, rodent or insect infestation
- Major fire damage
- Lack of electrical power
- Sewage backup at the facility
- Refrigeration units not working properly to keep food at safe temperatures
- Unapproved or contaminated food, or other factors that impact health and safety