KINGMAN - After a nearly two-year hiatus, the Mohave County Health Department said it expects to relaunch its online listings of restaurant health inspections later this summer.
Environmental Health Manager Rachel Patterson said that the listings were taken down when the County switched software about two years ago. She said the IT Department expects to have the reviews back online as early as August.
The Environmental Health Division is responsible for the restaurant inspections as well as the license process for all food vendors, sewage disposal systems, swimming pools, septic haulers and lodging establishments.
The department does not receive any general fund money for the inspection process and is instead supported entirely through permit fees. In a down economy with fewer establishments opening and less permits being issued, that has equated to a smaller budget and a decrease in staffing over the last five years, with eight positions in the wastewater program and three on the administrative side "frozen" for the time being, Patterson said.
The food safety program has been spared such cuts, with seven full-time staff, including three in Kingman, and two each in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City.
Patterson said that most restaurants get a routine inspection twice a year. She added that additional inspections are done in response to a complaint or to follow up on critical violations found at a regular inspection.
The delis, bakeries and meat counters in grocery stores are also inspected at least twice a year.
Stores that sell only retail, commercially processed, prepackaged food, such as a convenience store, are inspected only once a year.
Patterson said that the health department has the authority to close a restaurant as the result of repeated critical violations or an imminent public health threat, such as an infestation of bugs or rodents, sewage back-ups, a lack of hot water or other unsanitary conditions.
Patterson said that the most common violations found in 2011 were, in order, inadequate sanitization of food contact surfaces; improper cooling temperatures (refrigeration and/or freezer temperatures); lack of food handler cards and/or food manager certification as required by Mohave County ordinance; inadequate cleaning of food contact surfaces; inadequate food contact controls to prevent food contamination that could lead to cross-contamination of surfaces; expired products still on the shelf in a packaged food outlet and hand washing facilities that are not available or functional.
Patterson said residents can call the district offices to get the rating for a restaurant. The number for the Kingman district is (928) 757-0901. Those dining out of town can call the Bullhead City office at (928) 758-0704 or the Lake Havasu Office at (928) 453-0712.
"If they would like to see the inspection, they can come into any of our district offices to get a copy of the most recent inspection," she said. "The operators of the food facilities are also supposed to have a copy of the most recent inspection report available to the public for review under the Mohave County ordinance."