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Working with our community to ensure
a safe and healthy environment.

Environmental Health Frequently Asked Questions

  • General Questions

    • Yes and No; we are actually the Environmental Health Division and are part of the Environmental Services Department which also includes a Water and Waste Management Division and Citizen Complaints. Health Department refers back to the time that our Division was part of the Maricopa County Public Health Department.

    • Our Division assesses permitted establishments for compliance with the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code. In order to do that we issue permits to businesses like food establishments, pet shops, public accommodations and mobile food vendors. These businesses are then inspected on a regular basis with a frequency that depends on the type of operation. In addition, we also follow up on nuisance complaints if they fall within our jurisdiction, such as sewage, rodents, garbage, etc. in a permitted establishment.

      Below is a list of some of the establishments we inspect:

      • food establishments i.e. restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores, convenience markets.
      • public accommodations like hotels, motels and resorts.
      • pet shops.
      • food processors i.e. chips factory, ice cream manufacturer etc.
      • food jobbers/warehouses.
      • mobile food vendors i.e. ice cream vendors, mobile food units and hot dog carts.

    • Yes, go to our web-site main page and look for Restaurant Ratings or click the link: Restaurant Ratings
      You can look up any food establishment either by name and location or simply type in the street name to find all of the establishments on that street.

  • Starting your Business

    • There are two scenario's that may apply which are listed below:

      New establishment or remodeling: If you are planning to construct a new establishment or remodel an existing establishment, you must submit plans to the Plan Review program. Depending on the extent of the remodeling, you may be exempt from the plan submittal requirement so we recommend you call before submitting plans. Information concerning construction requirements is available on this web-site at: Plan Review If you have any plan review questions please call (602) 506-6824.

      Taking ownership of an existing establishment: If you are purchasing an existing food establishment, please contact the office below:

      Main Office (Map)
      1001 N. Central Ave., Lobby
      Phoenix, AZ 85004
      Phone: (602) 506-6970
      8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Monday thru Friday
      (Excluding Holidays)

    • Yes, selling as a mobile food vendor requires for you to obtain a permit from our department. In order to obtain a permit you will have to contact the mobile food section which is located at: 1645 E. Roosevelt Street. Phoenix, AZ 85006, (602) 506-6872. Details on requirements and contact phone numbers can be found at: Mobile Food

    • Food catering as defined by the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code is "any establishment in which the process of preparing food products or food is carried on at one premises for food service and consumption at another off-site location for a temporary event or other occurrence. "A separate permit will need to be obtained for this. Some of the requirements are that all food must be prepared at an approved kitchen or commissary and personal vehicles (station wagons, passenger cars etc.) cannot be used for transport. Contact the Plan Review program at (602) 506-6824

  • Health Code Violations

    • Yes, that is allowed. The County Health Code requires wiping cloth to be stored in a sanitizer solution and when the tables and the benches are wiped the sanitizer will do its job. Sanitizer should have a chlorine concentration between 50 and 100 Parts Per Million (PPM), (About a cap full of household bleach per gallon of water) and if Quaternary Ammonia is used the concentration should be 200 PPM.

    • Non-latex gloves are one approved method of preventing bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. Other approved methods to prevent this bare hand contact include the use of deli papers, tongs, or other food service utensils. Bare hand contact is allowed for foods which are not ready to eat, such as pizza toppings, raw meats, and ingredients for recipes prior to cooking. Some establishments have obtained an approved Bare Hand Contact Exemption which allows them to touch ready to eat foods with bare hands. In these cases, a Department issued notice that states "FACILITY APPROVED FOR BARE HAND CONTACT WITH READY TO EAT FOODS" must be posted in the establishment as in conjunction with the approval. The parameters of this exemption typically include, but are not limited to, frequent hand washing and the maintenance of a hand washing record. Failure to comply with the parameters of an exemption could result in immediate removal of this approval by an environmental health officer at the time of an inspection.

    • Yes, but they are required to notify you in an effective manner that consuming an undercooked meat product can be hazardous to your health. This consumer advisory consists of two parameters. First, a disclosure of what item is being served in an undercooked or raw form followed by a reminder that consuming a food that is undercooked can result in food-borne illness.

    • Sample service has long been a concern with health departments. It is very important to protect the samples from potential contamination from consumers. Some suggested forms are to serve the samples on a napkin or plate to the customer or provide a dispenser that assures that the customer's hand only comes into contact with the product they are taking for themselves. Additionally, no slicing or portioning of produce may occur and potentially hazardous foods must be maintained at a proper temperature.

    • There are two methods to file a complaint. The quickest is to call our Environmental Health Complaint line at (602) 506-6616 (options, 1,4,2) or visit our web-site and enter a complaint via our On-line complaint form .

    • Due to budgetary constraints and an absence of State or County laws and/or regulations pertaining to the presence of mold, effective March 24, 2004, we will no longer be taking residential mold complaints. We are unable to advise the public on the possible health effects of mold and an attorney should be consulted for legal concerns in the event of a landlord/tenant issue. Some environmental consulting companies provide mold sampling services. Please refer to the yellow pages if you wish to talk to one of these companies.

      For more information on mold or other indoor air quality topics, please visit one of the following websites:

  • Food Service Worker Card Info

    • Maricopa County will accept any certificate or identification card issued by another county within Arizona or a valid food employee certificate of successful completion of a food handler training course that meets all state of Arizona statutory requirements including compliance with the American National Standards Institute/ASTM International Standard E2659-09. Please see more information on Food Service Worker cards.