By Lana Sanstrom, LEHP
In 2009, the Douglas County Health Department started recognizing food establishments with a “Silver Spoon Award” for a perfect inspection and a “Clean Spoon Award” for an inspection score of 95 or higher. This program began because I, Lana Sanstrom, was asked by an assistant to share with the public the names of food establishment’s earning less than stellar inspection scores. I suggested that the ones doing extremely well be rewarded instead, and it has been a great program.
Everyone likes rewards, and this reward program brought about some competition within some establishments employees to earn the certificate. I have also been told that there has been competition between some food establishments. The result has been that scores have improved overall, and many diners look for the winners of the coveted Silver or Clean Spoon Award in the newspapers, on the DCHD website, and in the food establishment creating more business.
Inspections are spread over an entire year, and only the winners in a given month are listed on social media and in the newspapers; the certificates are posted in the food establishments as earned. I was made aware that some people newly aware of the program may have only seen a few months listings or missed the ones in their favorite food establishment causing concern about establishments not listed. I would like to share that in 2017, while not every establishment earned a certificate, there were no failing scores during inspections at Douglas County food establishments. This has also been aided by a requirement of the Illinois Department of Public Health that all employees have safe food handling certification and not only the managers.
In the next several weeks, the Douglas County Health Department will keep an ongoing list of Silver and Clean Spoon Award winners for the 2018 year on the department’s Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and website. In this way, the monthly list will always be available.
I and my assistant, Aaron, would welcome conversation about this program and other topics concerning the food program. We can be reached at 217-253-4137 or by email through our website, www.dchealthdept.org.