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.

Jim Romahn: Ontario egg whistleblower silenced – for now

The Supreme Court in London, Ontario has squelched whistleblower Norman Bourdeau – for now.

Madame Justice Helen Rady granted the request of lawyer Helen Webster, who was acting for L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and its egg-production and egg-marketing businesses.
Webster cited the “sensitivity of the matter” and said the stack of documents filed in connection with the case contain “sensitive commercial information” such as about egg grading.

Justice Rady granted both of Webster’s requests – to seal the court documents, meaning the public can no longer look at them – and to “close the courtroom” while she and lawyer Rod Refcio, acting for Bourdeau, presented their agreement calling for an “interim injunction.”

If that injunction is similar to the main one filed by Gray and containing information used for news reports before the Tuesday, Feb. 22, hearing, it will prevent Bourdeau from releasing any information he has gathered about the Gray company and from speaking to anyone about the information.

Justice Rady told Webster that the sealing order will be “re-examined” when the case moves along to the stage of a “special appointment” before a different judge.

She said court proceedings should be open to the public.

Dirty egg-sucking dog: illegal eggs flood Toronto

Tens of thousands of illegal eggs — some covered in fecal matter and feathers — have emerged in a crackdown on Toronto-area food retailers and wholesalers, prompting public health concerns and pending charges against nine companies so far.

Rob Cribb of the Toronto Star revisits the food beat to report that at least six food establishments have charges pending:

• Sharable Bakery, 240 Alton Towers Circle.
• Greystone Bakery, 6 Greystone Walk Dr.
• Farm Fresh Supermarket, 4466 Sheppard Ave. E.
• Casa Imperial Fine Chinese Cuisine, 4125 Steeles Ave E.
• ABC Bakery, 3618 Victoria Park Ave.
• Besmeats Wholesale Ltd., a food distributor at 110 Bynamic Dr.

“The person who gave me eggs did not write ‘ungraded eggs’ on the box. We are innocent,” said Besmeats manager Jesslyn Tio.

“It’s not easy to get egg dealers in town. Those people just knocked on my door. I don’t know them. I don’t want ungraded eggs to be on the market. I eat the eggs too.”

Tio said she can now see a clear difference between inspected eggs and what she’s been supplying her clients, mainly bakeries.

Inspectors believe at least some of the eggs came from a distribution warehouse in Scarborough under investigation.

The unnamed facility was filled with more than 100,000 ungraded eggs when inspectors visited last Friday, said Toronto Public Health food safety manager Jim Chan. They were seized and destroyed, he said.

“Some of the eggs still have fecal matter on the egg shells, quite a bit of dirt and even feathers inside the boxes which are all indications of ungraded eggs,” said Chan.

“We brought CFIA (the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) in and they confirmed they were ungraded eggs.”

All eggs sold beyond farm gates in Ontario must be graded at federally licensed facilities. The process is designed to ensure eggs are properly washed and free of hairline cracks — often invisible to the eye — that open up the potential for salmonella and other pathogens to enter.

Rodger Dunlop, manager of regulatory compliance with the provincial agriculture ministry, would offer no comment on the investigation, saying only that it is ongoing.

Way to be forthcoming, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

B.C. health officials have traced an outbreak of about 650 salmonella cases over the past three years — a 300 per cent increase since 2007 — to egg consumption including ungraded eggs.

Statistics Canada figures show about 380,000 dozen eggs produced in Ontario each month are “leakers and rejects.” But the agency does not track how many eggs unfit for human consumption end up in the underground marketplace.

Those facing charges this week would say little about their eggs.