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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 enforces the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code. In order to do that we issue permits to businesses like food establishments, pet shops, public accommodations, public and semi-public swimming pools, mobile food vendors, and trailer parks. 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.
      • mobile home parks.
      • 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.
      • public and semi-public swimming pools which include the City pools and all pools attached to apartment complexes, homeowner associations and public accommodations.

    • Only if you meet ALL of the following three criteria:

      • Only non-potentially hazardous food items may be made. (Non-potentially hazardous food items generally means food items that do not need refrigeration), and
      • you are limited to the sale at religious or charitable organizations bake sale events only. (Usually these bake sales are limited to only four times a year), and
      • you must disclose at the sale to the public that the food is prepared in a kitchen that is not under regulation and inspection by the Environmental Services Department. This can be done through a sign. Making food at home for any other commercial purpose or give away promotions is not allowed.

      Code Ref: Maricopa County Health Code Chapter VIII Section 1 Regulation 1 Definition 45 (c) i.

      Tabletop "Bake Sale" disclosure: Placard

    • 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 are planning to remodel an existing establishment you must submit plans to the Plan Review section. Depending on the extent of the remodeling, you may be exempt from the plan submittal requirement and it would be wise to 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) 506-6980.

      Moving into an existing establishment: If you are moving into an existing food establishment, please contact the regional office in your area (listed below) and ask to speak with a supervisor or an inspector.

      • Central Region Office 1001 N. Central Third Floor Phoenix, AZ 85004 (602) 506-6272
      • Eastern Region Office 1255 W. Baseline Suite #257 Mesa, AZ 85202 (480) 820-7655
      • Northern Regional Office 15023 N. 75th St. Scottsdale, AZ 85260 (480) 483-4703
      • Western Region Office 8910 N. 43rd Ave. Suite #101 Glendale, AZ 85302 (623) 939-5788

    • 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 appropriate regional office for additional requirements.

  • 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.

    • Our inspections are now based on major violations. These are violations that are more likely to cause a food-borne illness if they are found to be not in compliance. Our current legal system is based on repeat major violations. The first time a food establishment obtains a repeated major violation during an inspection, a warning statement is placed on the inspection report. The statement states that failure to correct repeated major violations on future reports may result in legal action being taken against the establishment which may result in the permit to operate being revoked is placed on the inspection report. If the establishment still fails to correct major violations on future inspections, a probation letter can be issued by the Department, which places the establishment on probation for 6 months. If they have any repeated major violations during that 6 month probationary period, their permit to operate maybe revoked. There also is a possibility of suspending a permit to operate immediately if an imminent health hazard, such as a sewage backup or no running water, is found during 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

    • Any person, who handles, prepares, serves, sells or gives away food for consumption by persons other than his or her immediate family. Thus the requirement applies to a person washing or busing dishes, but not to a hostess merely seating guests and supplying menus. Additionally, the requirement does not apply to establishments serving all pre-packaged foods.

    • No, due to the fact that regulations of other Counties may be quite different from the regulations we enforce we require you to successfully complete the online sanitation course and test by Maricopa County State Food Safety.

  • Inspector Requirements

    • There are two ways to become an inspector with the Environmental Health Division. The first one would be to become a Registered Sanitarian first in the State of Arizona. In order to obtain information about the State Exam you may visit their web-site at: State Registration Page. After you obtained your registration you will be able to apply for a position with us when we have openings as a preferred candidate (Note a B.S. Degree is also required).

      The second option is apply for a job with the Environmental Health Division first. In order to qualify for the job while you are not registered we require an undergraduate degree in Sciences. Sciences could be among others, Biology, Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, or Nutritional Sciences (the candidate must have 30 Science credit hours). Once you have been hired you will have a year to become registered with the State as a Sanitarian.

      Job openings can be monitored at the Human Resource office at 301 West Jefferson Street in Phoenix or online at: County Jobs