Food Establishments Target of False Hand-Washing Poster Solicitation

For Immediate Release: August 31, 2006
Media Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – Food service establishments around the state may be receiving letters falsely informing them that they must post hand-washing signs at all sinks or face a suspension of license, a large fine or jail time. The company sending the letters, the “Vermont Food Service Compliance Center” sells the signs for $19.95 each.

The Vermont Department of Health’s Food & Lodging program offers hand-washing signs for free. Any Vermont food service establishment who wants a free hand-washing sign can call 802-863-7221 or 1-800-439-8550.

The Health Department has notified the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. 

“The letters come from a business calling itself the ‘Vermont Food Service Compliance Center,’ which sounds like an official regulatory agency – but it is not,” said Beth Sisco-Cheng, Food Program Manager with the Vermont Department of Health. “In my opinion, this is an unnecessary action for food service establishments to take, as they don’t have to buy them – we offer hand-washing posters free to our licensees.”

State food regulations do require certain food establishments to post signs at hand-washing stations and toilet rooms.  However, there is no suspension of license, fine or jail time imposed for not posting the signs.

Restaurants in many states including New Hampshire, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina have been the target of similar misleading advertising.

Any establishment that has purchased signs from Vermont Food Service Compliance Center can contact the Health Department at 1-800-439-8550.

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