County Board Votes Down Restaurant Inspection Placards Outside C-U
By Sean Powers
The Champaign County Board narrowly voted down a plan on Tuesday night to have restaurants post color-coded placards indicating health inspection results, but that doesn’t mean the placards won’t go up in some parts of the county.
The fastest way for people to find out if a restaurant in the county passed a health inspection is by logging onto CU-CitizenAccess, a news organization posting inspection results.
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has developed a color-coded placard system to go up in restaurants – green for in compliance…yellow for re-inspection required…and red for closed. Public Health officials say the placards would have made the process of looking up inspection results easier, but the county board narrowly voted it down on a 9-to-11 vote.
(Voting yes were Lloyd Carter, Lorraine Cowart, Josh Hartke, Stan James, Al Kurtz, Ralph Langenheim, Diane Michaels, Michael Richards, Giraldo Rosales. Voting no were Chris Alix, Astrid Berkson, Aaron Esry, Stanley Harper, John Jay, Jeff Kibler, Gary Maxwell, Jim McGuire, Pattsi Petrie, Jonathan Schroeder, Rachel Schwartz. Finally, James Quisenberry abstained.)
The county board's vote was after both the Champaign County and Champaign-Urbana boards of health approved the plan.
Champaign County Board Member Chris Alix said he believes the placard system could be misleading.
“A green sign in the window of a restaurant gives you no necessary sense of security,” Alix said. “All it takes is a server who’s working sick because they don’t have sick leave to cough on your food, or the one bad oyster in an otherwise pristine kitchen, and you’re going to get sick.”
Champaign County Board Chair Al Kurtz, who has worked in the restaurant business, urged the board to support the plan.
"This is a health and safety issue," Kurtz said. "I think our community should know when they walk into a restaurant that they are getting served by the best equipment and sanitation that they can."
Even though the Champaign County Board voted it down, Public Health Administer Julie Pryde said the placards could still go up in Champaign and Urbana since that falls within public health’s jurisdiction. However, she said it is unclear if that will happen.
“It’s been the practice since we’ve had a Champaign County Board of Health to keep the services consistent,” Pryde explained. “So, I think it will be reviewed in the district that if the county is not going to do it, the district will.”
Pryde said that is a discussion with the Champaign-Urbana Board of Health, which meets again on Dec. 9.