San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Clean Hotels, Eateries To Get ‘Seal of Quality’

The Health Ministry and the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) have extended their “Sello de Calidad” (Seal of Quality) sanitation program to include hotels, restaurants and recreation centers in an effort to make Costa Rican businesses cleaner.

Participating businesses must agree to have their water and general sanitation services inspected in exchange for a green flag with the Seal of Quality logo on it for those that pass the test.

“We want all the health standards of a developed country,” Health Minister María Louisa Avila said. “Water is a human right, and we don’t want to abuse the resource.”

Each flag has one to five stars, which indicate the business’s level of sanitation and commitment to environmental sustainability.

One star signifies a restaurant complies with at least 90 percent of the program’s basic requirements of sanitary waste disposal and bathrooms, employee hand-washing and potable water. Businesses receive more stars for recycling, reforesting or posting a sign that encourages their customers to wash their hands. Restaurants and hotels pay for their own inspection and for the banner they receive if they pass.

At the program’s kick-off on Monday, 23 hotels and restaurants enrolled, including the La Princesa Marina, a chain restaurant that closed in April after fecal matter in the restaurant’s water source sickened some patrons. Approved businesses will receive their flag next September.

Avila urged consumers to help create a culture that values sanitary conditions. If a restaurant looks dirty, don’t go there anymore, she said.

The Seal of Quality program was first started in 2002 to ensure the cleanliness of the country’s drinking water by enforcing stronger oversight over quality tests and preventing contamination at the source.

–Elizabeth Goodwin


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