Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Joseph F. Robare


Most people have had an episode of foodborne illness at one time or another; however, the majority of those stricken with foodborne illness fails to associate ill health with something consumed within the past 72 hours. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that foodborne diseases affect 30% of the population in developed countries, and that in developing countries, about 2 million people die yearly due to foodborne illness. Previous researchers have indicated that food handlers with poor personal hygiene are potential sources of infection. Although public health agencies in many countries already regularly inspect food facilities to control potential foodborne illnesses to some extent, the question of the most appropriate and effective means of achieving the goal of food safety remains unanswered. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether a color-coded placard grading system is an effective tool for achieving this goal while simultaneously educating the public about food safety. This study involved 1,410 randomly selected food service establishments, consisting of traditional restaurants, take-out restaurants, grocery stores, public school cafeterias, and institutional food facilities located in Alameda County, California. Inspection data were analyzed for the first 12 months of placard grading and compared to the following 12 months during the placard grading period. Statistical analysis results did not show significant differences in the CDC major violations and in confirmed foodborne illnesses between the 2 years. However, it is expected that the new program will provide improved food handling practices in the future. Improvement in food handling practices will contribute to social change by reducing the number of foodborne illnesses, promoting better health for the community, and educating the public about food safety.