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3950 S. Country Club Road, Ste. 100
Pima County Health Department is dedicated to help the residents of Pima County achieve and maintain an optimal level of wellness. Our mission is to be a leader in protecting health, preventing disease and promoting community well-being. Our programs include P... more.
Director of the Consumer Health and Food Safety Office
Don't Eat Poop, Wash Your Hands
For three of those - Las Cazuelitas, 234 E. 22nd St.; El Rio Bakery, 901 N. Grande Ave.; and Aqui Con El Nene, a mobile food unit - it was their first inspection with a new owner, said Sharon Browning, director of Pima County's Consumer Health and Food Safety Unit.
All three passed re-inspections. A Domino's Pizza at 1751 W. Ajo Way and Taqueria Jenny's, 4207 S. Sixth Ave., also failed. Taqueria Jenny's passed its follow-up inspection but results from the Domino's re-inspection are pending, said Browning.
"That's something we currently don't require that restaurants do, but it's something that has been discussed," said Sharon Browning, program manager for the county's Consumer Health and Food Safety unit.Browning said the Pima County Health Department encourages restaurants that perform well on inspections to post grades but doesn't require displaying them.In essence, the lack of a visible inspection grade at a restaurant is an admission that it didn't score well, she said."Honestly, if we had more dollars to invest, I would much prefer that we use them to further the recognition of performing restaurants.We're using the carrot rather than the stick."she said."If I walk into a restaurant and don't see the proof that they're performing, they must not be making it."Browning said that when Pima County revamped its inspection process in 2002, a committee entertained the idea of adopting A, B, and C grades, but opted for "E" (Excellent), "G" (Good), "NI" (Needs Improvement), and "P" (Provisional License).A "P" rating, which results from five or more critical violations, means a restaurant is given a temporary license to serve food until it passes a follow-up inspection that restores its regular license."In a sense, our grading system is very similar to what the study recommended," she said."The sample size was small, and for the most part, the restaurants they chose to study here were ones that had pretty good control systems in place," said Sharon Browning, program manager of Pima County's Consumer Health and Food Safety unit.
If the new owners of Ali Baba Restaurant, 2545 E. Speedway, had faced a regular inspection on Feb. 11, it would have been placed on a provisional license, said Sharon Browning, program manager of consumer health and food safety at the Pima County Health Department.However, the health department was conducting a change-of-ownership inspection.An inspector found food being held at improper temperatures, foods stored beside each other that should be kept separated, several pans stored as clean that had food debris on them and dirty dishes stored in the hand sink.A dishwasher was seen handling dirty dishes and then putting away clean dishes without washing hands between, and there was an open can of soda on a food preparation table.Drinks must have lids and straws and be stored below food preparation areas.The inspector found an open spray can of body deodorizer stored on a shelf with uncovered dry mixes.Most of the infractions were fixed on the spot, and many of them were attributable to the fact the establishment had recently expanded under the new owners to begin offering a sit-down restaurant area, Browning said."They converted a market to a restaurant and now they're cooking," Browning said."In the process of doing so, they unfortunately maybe didn't know as many rules that would pertain to that type of operation."The eatery failed a follow-up inspection on Feb. 22 but passed and received its regular license on Feb. 28."The next inspection that we do, the provisional (license) would truly count and be reported as such," Browning said.
"I think what's changed is that the (current) economy has people looking for jobs that provide good medical insurance and benefits that they can get with a government job, as opposed to just looking for the highest salary," said Browning, program manager for the Pima County Consumer Health and Safety unit. Despite the hiring bonanza, Browning remains seven workers short of the 28 people budgeted for the unit, which is charged with inspecting more than 10,000 licensed restaurants, bars, grocery stores, trailer parks, schools and swimming pools.Browning, whose sole job would be overseeing the division were it fully staffed, has since 2005 worn three hats: manager, supervisor and sanitarian. A full staff would include Browning, three supervisors, 20 sanitarians and four sanitarian assistants.Right now she has no supervisors and is short three sanitarians and one assistant. The extra work and stress resulting from understaffing compounds what is essentially the biggest reason for attrition - a less-than-competitive salary, Browning said. "I lose them primarily because they leave for more money.That's what they communicate to me," Browning said. So far, Browning has been able to ensure that restaurants open within state timetables. For most of February, at least two sanitarians are unavailable to help the unit catch up on inspections because they spend all their time inspecting the temporary food vendors that set up for the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. "With the gem show in town, for every four legal vendors that tell us who they are and go through the proper process, you have one wildcat vendor that just sets up and starts selling food.So you have to look for all of those and find them and then issue cease-and-desist orders along with checking all the legal ones for compliance," Browning said. To be hired in Pima County as a sanitarian in training, you must be eligible to take the test, which requires either five years of military experience in the environmental health field, five years experience as a sanitarian assistant, or at least 30 hours of course work in physical and natural sciences from an accredited college, said Sharon Browning, unit director for Pima County. It's not uncommon for sanitarians to take on a new task after the close of every session of the state Legislature, Browning said. "For example, if the state passes the new ordinance on licensing body art that they're considering, we'll be doing that too," she said.
"I don't have any doubt that they'll catch up, but obviously, Sharon has been in a very difficult position, and she's been forthright about it and doing the best she can."To be hired in Pima County as a sanitarian in training, you must be eligible to take the test, which requires either five years of military experience in the environmental health field, five years experience as a sanitarian assistant, or at least 30 hours of course work in physical and natural sciences from an accredited college, said Sharon Browning, unit director for Pima County. It's not uncommon for sanitarians to take on a new task after the close of every session of the state Legislature, Browning said. "For example, if the state passes the new ordinance on licensing body art that they're considering, we'll be doing that too," she said.