The Silver Platter Award: Regulatory Reform in the Restaurant Industry

By Bezich, Louis S. | Public Management, January 1994 | Go to article overview

The Silver Platter Award: Regulatory Reform in the Restaurant Industry


Bezich, Louis S., Public Management


To some, "regulation" is a dirty word. But in Camden County, New Jersey, restaurant regulation is taking on a whole new look that has restaurateurs polishing their silver. The Silver Platter Award is a pilot program that increases compliance with health codes while reducing costs. The program applies a theory known as interactive corporate compliance, a model that government regulators are turning to as budgetary pressures grow and as calls for stronger enforcement persist.

Silver Platter is a voluntary program open to all full-service restaurants in Camden County. Under the program, restaurateurs who perform quarterly self-inspections and attend food-handling classes are eligible to sin a Silver Platter Award from the board of freeholders (the governing body of the county government) and the division of health, if they meet all the mandatory requirements trader New Jersey's sanitary code. By voluntarily exceeding the basic requirements, they can win an award that gives them a market advantage: winners are encouraged to display their awards and use them in advertisements. Awards are strictly related to sanitary conditions and do not reflect on other amenities.

The likelihood of food-borne illness is reduced when the division of health trains restaurant workers in food-handling methods and when they perform self-inspections between the division's annual examinations. The probability of failing the annual inspection is reduced, decreasing the number of reinspections needed. There also is another benefit. The voluntary self-inspections and training classes emphasize the Hazard/Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards. HACCP is an inspection process that emphasizes food protection and attention to critical areas linked with food-borne illness.

The key element in the structure of the program is the elimination of the adversarial relationship. By structuring a win-win scenario under which restaurants can be rewarded for voluntarily exceeding minimum health code requirements, the government is using the marketplace as a means of enhancing compliance and reducing costs.

Camden County is home to a myriad of restaurants. Participants in Silver Platter have ranged from national chains (Red Lobster) to family-owned diners (Ponzio's of Cherry Hill). …

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