California county considers color-coded restaurant health ratings

I had some minor, minor role in the development of the Toronto red, yellow, green system of restaurant inspection disclosure. than 10 years later, Orange County, California, supervisors agreed to explore a color-coded restaurant inspection system that would alert would-be customers of what to expect at restaurants by using green, yellow and red signs.

If county health officials move forward with the plan, it would align them with restaurant rating signs in Sacramento and Alameda counties, but not neighboring Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside counties, where a letter-grading system is used.

The proposed traffic-light style was proposed in a grand jury report that criticized the county’s current system as confusing.

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009.

The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information.

Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.


The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.