Food Placards: Have You Seen Them?

Have you seen these PASS placards around San Mateo County?

Have you seen these PASS placards around San Mateo County?

It’s been eleven months since Environmental Health Services (EHS) started putting up color-coded food placards as part of routine food inspections in San Mateo County.

Since January 2016, 86% of restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and other food facilities have enrolled in the program and are now displaying green “PASS” placards. EHS staff initially issued 38 yellow “CONDITIONAL PASS” and 29 red “CLOSED” placards, however through technical assistance provided all of these food facilities are now displaying green “PASS” placards.

Since the placards went live we’ve received some questions from you about the program, so we’ve summarized some quick facts about what the green, yellow and red colors mean and where to look for them the next time you head out to your favorite restaurant, cafeteria, or café.

  • Color placards need to be “Clearly visible to the general public and patrons.” This means…
    • Posted in the window within five feet of the entrance.
    • In a display case mounted on the outside wall of the food facility within five feet of its main entrance.
    • Posted at the food facility’s initial point of sale area if the food facility operates in the same building, or shares a space as a separately permitted business.
  • Green “PASS” placards signify that the restaurant has had no more than one violation that was corrected during its routine inspection.
  • Yellow “CONDITIONAL PASS” placards means the food establishment has three business days to correct violations and will be provided with an opportunity to be inspected and receive a “PASS” placard.
  • A red “CLOSED” placard means the restaurant has violations that are a danger to the public’s health and safety, needs more training and education, and will remain closed until the unsafe conditions are corrected.
  • If you haven’t seen a placard up at your favorite restaurant, know that one is coming.

Learn more about the Food Placarding Program at or let us know what you think of the Program in the comments below!


One thought on “Food Placards: Have You Seen Them?

  1. Really enjoying reading your blog posts (all of ’em – even tho I’m a foodie)! I see your placard system has been in place for about a year. Our state has contemplated this idea many times but rejected it for numerous reasons. I’m wondering, now that you’ve had a chance to see it in action; how well is it working? I assume consumers like it, but is it accurate? How are the establishments handling it? Cheers!


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