Health inspectors uncover health code violations at restaurants across Maricopa County

Dirty Dining is back so we get a behind-the-scenes look at how Maricopa County inspectors find health violations at Valley restaurants.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 4:10 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- When customers sit down for a bite to eat, they’d like to think the restaurant they are at is following food safety guidelines to keep customers from getting sick, but that’s not always the case. “It is really important to me that the kitchen is clean,” said diner Amy Joshu. “Nobody wants to go to a pretty run down, dirty restaurant,” said Matt Huggins.

Arizona’s Family recently shadowed Maricopa County Environmental Health Specialist Nincina Desargones when she stopped by some Valley restaurants for surprise inspections. Health inspectors try to visit every restaurant two to three times a year, looking for health code violations.

“We want to see how they are handling the food, if they are going from raw to ready to eat,” said Desargones. “We definitely want to stop it and prevent it while we are there, and just educate them and train them on how to prevent that.”

Desargones said the most common violations she sees are:

  • Workers not washing their hands or not washing them properly.
  • Food not kept hot enough or cold enough.
  • Cross-contamination of raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.

Health Supervisor Tim Hurst said it’s important for the public to know they’re not out to get anyone. Its mission is to work with every restaurant owner and manager so they can be successful while protecting the public’s health. “If we are really successful, we should be able to have an operator show us how to do the inspection,” said Hurst. “That’s the whole goal here, we want the operator to conduct their own managerial approach.”

Health inspectors insist that one of the best parts of their job is seeing a restaurant struggle during an inspection, then coming back a couple of months later and finding no violations. “Our purpose is not to have the violations repeated,” said Hurst. “We want places to be successful.”