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Valley restaurant earns severe violations along with D rating by health inspectors

The letter

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The letter "A" is shown as the Sanitary Inspection Grade for a restaurant in the SoHo neighborhood of New York, Monday, May 28, 2012. The New York City Health Department conducts unannounced inspections of restaurants at least once a year. Inspectors check for compliance in food handling, food temperature, personal hygiene and vermin control. Each violation of a regulation earns a certain number of points. At the end of the inspection, the inspector totals the points, and this number is the restaurant's inspection score—the lower the score, the better. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Brandie Bosworth, Staff writer

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According to ABC 15 , over 11 valley restaurants failed their health inspections last month. Health inspections occur up to four times a year, every few months. According to Chron.com, health inspectors are tasked with enforcing regulations that keep the public safe from foodborne illness. Inspectors will search around kitchens, coolers, freezers and other areas customers’ food comes in contact with. The freezer and fridge temperature logs are checked to ensure the food is being kept at a temperature where bacteria cannot grow. They also check water and ventilation systems along with waste and disposal methods. Most health inspectors have a bachelor’s degree in public health or science; some states also require them to acquire a state certification in public health laws and compliance.

Health inspectors grade the restaurant based on the number of priority violations and priority foundation violations. According to Maricopa County Environmental Services, a priority violation is one that directly increases the risk of injury or foodborne illness. A priority foundation violation does not directly contribute to an increase of injury or foodborne illness, but can slip into a priority violation if not corrected. Kitchens can also receive core violations, which relate to the general cleanliness of the place. Four or more core violations will result in an entire letter grade drop. The number of violations are then totaled and a letter grade is given to the restaurant, but any legal action results in an automatic D grade.

Some of the violations found last month by health inspectors were minor, such as not having reminders for employees to wash their hands posted above hand-washing stations. One of the more severe violations was found at El Metate, a Mexican food restaurant located in Mesa, Arizona. The restaurant received a D grade and had three priority violations, according to Maricopa County Environmental Services. Health inspectors found an open cup with a vial of insulin and syringe inside the restaurant’s walk-in cooler along with other violations. This cup was on the same shelf as other food items used to create dishes served in the restaurant. This information was obtained from the Maricopa County Environmental Services, where any Maricopa County restaurant health inspection report can be found.

An employee at El Metate promptly hung up the phone when asked about the violations. Upon call back, he then stated no one speaks English and did not deny that he hung up. In Spanish, the same question was asked and the employee said he did not know anything about the situation. A manager was requested; however, a manager was never put on the phone, and the conversation ended as the first one did.

On the flip side, Cafe Allegro is a restaurant inside of the Musical Instrument Museum located in Scottsdale, Arizona. The restaurant has always passed its health inspections in the eight years it has been in business. Chris Lenza, the executive chef, has the safety of not only the guests but the employees as his number one priority in the 25 years of experience he has in the restaurant business.

“We prepare for health inspections daily. We have a checklist and many checkpoints throughout the day to ensure our kitchen is safe for all of our guests and employees. We also have daily discussions with our team members on how to work through the day and perform food safety duties,” said Lenza.

Lenza views health inspections as an educational tool for kitchens to learn from their mistakes. He believes restaurants such as El Metate earn low grades because of a lack of experience or training in food safety and that they need to take advantage of the information the health department gives them. “The restaurant should use this as a learning curve to shape up and keep our community safe,” said Lenza.

 

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Valley restaurant earns severe violations along with D rating by health inspectors