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Supervisors approve "sensible, customer friendly" proposals

Supervisors approve “sensible, customer friendly” proposals for restaurant inspections

Following the recommendations of a regulatory reform task force, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors are revamping the rules on restaurant inspections, hoping to make them more consistent, efficient and “consumer friendly.”

“This is about the county becoming a better business partner,” County Manager Tom Manos said, explaining the three-month review involving restaurant stakeholders and the county Environmental Services Department officials.

The recommendations are aimed at expanding the county’s Cutting Edge program, which helps operators with gaining more “Active Management Control” in their establishments and creates a preventive rather than reactive approach to food safety, allowing inspectors to focus on the establishments that might pose greater health risks. The rules might allow for an incentive-based fee structure for Cutting Edge members.

The revisions also seek to enhance cooperative relationships in the inspection process. Under one recommendation, which could be implemented as early as July, inspectors would begin each inspection with a small, informal, “icebreaker” conversation, as a way to build greater rapport and communication with food service operators. Another provision would delay Environmental Services inspection results from being posted immediately online. This would give the operators time to clarify the findings of the report. Reports would be posted after three business days.

“This is one more step in our Regulatory Reform effort to assist businesses while assuring food safety,” commented Supervisor Clint Hickman, of Goodyear.

Officials were also pleased with the recommendations and appreciative of the owners and operators who volunteered their time to serve on the task force. Board members hope the rules will reflect positive incentives rather than mandatory requirements. “This is not political eye wash,” Board Chairman Denny Barney said of the supervisors’ efforts on regulatory reform. “We want to see a cultural change.” He encouraged county workers to follow the goals and vision of the task force. “This is truly going to have a positive impact on the community.”

Supervisor Andy Kunasek agreed. “This is a great example of the County making it more attractive to start and grow a business via balanced regulatory reforms that will ensure healthy restaurants and consumer protection,” Kunasek said.

“I am encouraged and thankful to the members of this ground breaking task force for ensuring the county becomes a strong partner for local business owners, commented newly appointed Supervisor Marie Lopez Rogers.

Environmental Services Director John Kolman said: “We respect the directive issued by the Board of Supervisors and the hard work performed thus far by the task force members. The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department is committed to the process and will continue to strengthen collaborative efforts with the industry and prioritize food safety for the public.”

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