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FAQs for the Public

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<p>Safe Food Counts FAQ's</p>

What is Safe Food Counts?

Safe Food Counts is an inspection disclosure system that translates the results of a food premises compliance inspection into food safety stars. The number of stars represents the level of compliance with the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), Ontario Food Premises Regulation (Reg. 562), and other basics of food safety standards. The number of stars is determined by the score given based on the results of a compliance inspection.

The goal of the Safe Food Counts program is to reduce the rate of foodborne illness in the community and improve food safety standards.

What do the food safety stars mean?

The Safe Food Counts star sign shows, at a glance, the food safety standards of a food premises as seen by the Public Health Inspector at the time of inspection. The number of stars on the star sign is based on the latest inspection results. The score may not reflect the overall, long-term standards of the business. It also does not represent the quality (e.g., taste, nutrition, customer service, etc.) of the food served at the premises.

How is the number of stars determined?

The number of stars a food premises gets is based on the results of an inspection. The more closely food premises follow food standards, the more stars they get.

Why is a food premises closed?

A closure order is issued to the operator of a food premises when the Public Health Inspector believes that an immediate health hazard exists and can’t be fixed on the spot. Under these conditions, an order to close the premises under Section 13 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act will be issued. A Section 13 order is issued to eliminate or decrease the effect of the health hazard. An order is a legal document. Failure to comply with an order is an offence, which upon conviction, could result in a significant fine.

What can lead to a closure?

A premises is ordered closed when, in the opinion of a Public Health Inspector, a health hazard exists and the condition is not corrected. Examples include:

  • No working refrigerator or cold storage.
  • No potable (drinkable) running water.
  • Sewage back-up into food preparation or storage areas.

Why has the Health Unit developed a food safety disclosure program?

In June 2009 the Ontario Public Health standards made it mandatory for all health units to disclose food safety inspection results to the public.

Safe Food Counts has many benefits for the public and for food premises. The goals of SFC are to improve food safety standards, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, and raise consumer awareness of food safety. Research shows disclosure systems improve compliance with food safety laws and enhance food safety standards in food premises.

How do I know if the sign displayed is valid and genuine?

All Safe Food Counts star signs have an embossed security seal. At the time the sign is issued it will be dated by a Public Health Inspector. The sign will have a unique certificate number. This number can be used to find out more information about the inspection by calling the Health Unit.

You can learn more about the sign by clicking here.

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