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Award of Excellence FAQs

In July 2015, the Board of Supervisors approved the utilization of a risk-based inspection approach which aligned with the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations. In an effort to support the risk-based approach inspection process and to align with the California Food Inspection Data Fields Marking Guideline, effective January 1, 2017, the method used to classify violations changed. As a result, the criteria for achieving the Certificate of Excellence has been aligned with the new Retail Food Program Inspection Guide.

If you have any questions regarding the Award of Excellence program, please contact your Environmental Health Specialist at 714-433-6000.
What Types of Facilities are Eligible to Receive the Award of Excellence?
  • Restaurants
  • Catering Establishments
  • Supermarket/Bakery Combination
  • Supermarket/Market
  • Meat/Seafood Market
  • Retail Bakeries
  • Public and Private Schools – Unpackaged
How do you qualify for the Award of Excellence Program?

An Award of Excellence certificate will be issued to those food establishments that meet all of the following criteria:

  • Did not receive a Major Critical Risk Factor violation on any routine inspection for the previous year; 
  • Did not receive more than two (2) Minor Critical Risk Factor violations on any routine inspection for the previous year;
  • Did not receive more than (5) Good Retail Practice violations on any routine inspection for the previous year;
  • Had at least one (1) individual who has passed an approved food safety exam for the previous calendar year, please see the approved Food Safety Manager informational bulletin;
  • All food handlers posses valid Food Handler Cards as applicable, please see the approved Food handler Card Information Bulletin
  • Received a minimum of two routine inspections within the previous calendar year.
What is a Major Critical Risk Factor Violation?
Major Critical Risk Factors are considered violations that may pose an imminent health hazard and warrant immediate corrections or may require closure of the food facility in order to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These include, but are not limited to:
  • Improper handwashing and employee hygiene,
  • Contaminated food items,
  • Improper sanitizing procedures,
  • Improper food temperatures, and/or
  • Food from unapproved sources

The following violations may also be considered Major violations: adulterated food, prohibited food offered to highly susceptible populations, no water, lack of hot water, sewage, and/or vermin.

What is a Minor Critical Risk Factor Violation?
Minor Critical Fisk factors are those violations that do not pose an imminent health hazard, never the less warrants correction.  These include, but are not limited to (employees lack of demonstration of knowledge as applicable to their assigned duties, improper food storage/display, inadequate handwashing facilities supplied, and/or lack of consumer advisory provided for raw or undercooked foods).
What is a Good Retail Practice violation?

Good Retail Practices (GRPs) are intended to control basic operational and sanitation conditions within a food facility.  These are the foundation of a successful food safety management system.  GRPs found to be out-of-compliance may give rise to conditions that may lead to foodborne illness.  Monitoring of basic sanitation conditions in the food facility allows the operator an excellent opportunity to detect weaknesses and initiate actions for improvement.  Basic operational and sanitation programs must be in place to:

  • Protect food products from contamination by biological, chemical, and physical hazards,
  • Control bacterial growth that can result from temperature abuse during storage,
  • Maintain equipment, especially equipment used to maintain product temperature

For a detailed listing of all violation categories, refer to the Retail Food Inspection Marking Guide.

In what manner and how often is the Award of Excellence Certificate issued?
Following review and tabulation of inspection data from the previous calendar year, the Award of Excellence certificates will be issued each February and mailed to qualifying food establishments. Additionally, a list of each food establishment that qualified for the Award of Excellence certificate will be posted on the Environmental Health Food Protection Program web site.
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