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  • Health Department makes improvements to restaurant inspection ratings process

    Aug 26, 2019 | Read More News
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    inspectorOver the past week, Pima County health inspectors have begun rating the safety of local restaurants, food trucks and other food operations in an improved way. After listening to feedback from the industry, the Health Department’s changes aim to focus on working with the food operator community to create more educational and supportive inspection experiences.

    “This is a much more balanced approach to letting operators and the public know how the establishment performed,” said Danny Nikitas, Consumer Health and Food Safety Program Manager at the Pima County Health Department. “We’ve been testing this system in the field at all different types of establishments, and it leads to more accurate and transparent ratings while still identifying establishments that need some extra guidance or education.”

    The new rating system, which puts more emphasis on education and improvement, changes the way inspectors issue their rating of an establishment’s inspection results in two ways. 

    First, not all food code rules will be assessed in a “pass or fail” manner as they were in the previous system. Issues that create a direct and immediate danger to consumers must be corrected before the inspector leaves, and will cause the rating to go down – from “Excellent” all the way down to “Probation” or even closure of the establishment if necessary.

    Other issues that do not immediately affect the quality or safety of food products will still be assessed, must still be corrected immediately, but will not affect the rating as heavily if it does not pose an immediate health risk. 

    Second, the new system adds an additional level to the current ratings. The new “Satisfactory” rating level will give establishments more opportunities to adopt new practices or improvements discussed with the inspector without the monetary and time-consuming consequences associated with a “Needs Improvement” or “Probation” rating:

    “We have such a vibrant and diverse culinary community and culture in this county,” said Nikitas. “We are dedicated to seeing it thrive while continuing to fulfill the important role we play in ensuring the health and well-being of residents.” 

    Health Department staff will be explaining the new system to food operators during their routine inspections and will hold two meetings for food operators and the public if they are interested in learning more. The meetings will be held at the Abrams Public Health Center, 3950 S. Country Club Road, on Tuesday, September 17th from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Wednesday, September 18th from 9:00 am to 10:00 am.

    Additional information is also available at www.pima.gov/foodratings.