Food Safety Program

The mission of the Pinal County Division of Public Health is to protect the health of all Pinal County residents and visitors alike. It is our goal to ensure that all food produced, prepared, and offered to the public is wholesome, honestly presented, and safe for consumption. To fulfill our mission and goal, we conduct a consumer food protection and safety program that includes requirements for food establishment plan review and approval, permit to operate, ongoing inspection, and investigation of complaints of foodborne illness. This Internet website provides the public with another opportunity and avenue to obtain information on food establishment inspection results in Pinal County. We have developed this website as part of our continuing effort to educate and inform the public on matters related to food safety and Pinal County food establishment sanitation.

The Arizona Food Code requires that anyone wishing to operate a food establishment in the State of Arizona first obtain a permit to do so. In Pinal County, these permits are issued following a review of food facility plans and menus and assuring, by inspection, compliance with the food safety standards and practices contained in the Food Code. Routine inspections of each food establishment permitted by the Division of Environmental Health are conducted throughout the year to evaluate the facility's success in assuring that all food operations are being conducted in a safe and sanitary manner and in compliance with the Food Code.

If deficiencies are observed during these routine inspections, they are described in an inspection report with reference to a relevant section of the Arizona Food Code, the observations made by the inspector during the inspection, and the corrective action is taken. Such deficiencies are typically classified as either critical items, which are items that are more likely than other code provision items to contribute to food contamination, illness, or other environmental health hazards, or non-critical items, items representing a failure of cleaning, maintenance, or other good retail practices.

Pinal County Division of Environmental Health subscribes to the notion that the ultimate responsibility for food safety in our food facilities rests with the facility operator, who must have a solid understanding of foodborne disease prevention in the food service setting as well as knowledge of proper food handling techniques and practices. We are a strong advocate for Active Managerial Control, a concept whose success rests on the implementation and supervision of food safety practices on the part of the facility operator to control known and identified risk factors in the facility's food operations that might otherwise cause foodborne illness or injury. We promote Active Managerial Control of the known risk factors by our facility operators through education, collaboration, and inspection activities. Successful control of these foodborne illness risk factors through Active Managerial Control will be directly related to the number of critical items identified during our normal food establishment inspection process.

Food Establishment Ratings

Upon completion of a routine inspection, Pinal County food establishments are given a rating based on the presence or absence of violations noted during the inspection. Our establishment rating system is based on the following:

  • The food establishment receives an Excellent (E) rating where no priority or priority foundation items are observed as out of compliance at the time of inspection.
  • The food establishment receives a Satisfactory (S) where one or more priority or priority foundation items are observed out of compliance at the time of inspection when all priority items are corrected at the time of inspection.
  • The food establishment receives a Needs Improvement (N) where one or more priority violations or priority foundation items are observed out of compliance at the time of inspection where at least one priority violation is not corrected at the time of inspection. Note that when violations are corrected to the satisfaction of the Department, as confirmed on a follow-up inspection, a Satisfactory (S) rating will be given.
  • The food establishment receives an Unacceptable (U) where one or more violations are observed at the time of inspection, which is Imminent Health Hazards as described in 8-404.11. Note that when violations are corrected to the satisfaction of the Department, as confirmed on a follow-up inspection, a Satisfactory (S) rating will be given.

Food Establishment Categorization & Inspection Frequency

The Arizona Food Code provides for the categorization of food establishments based on the nature and scope of the food operation, types of food served, the preparation steps these foods require, the volume of food prepared, and the population served. Food establishments in Pinal County are classified as Type I, Type II, or Type III establishments in accordance with our categorization scheme. Examples of Type I establishments might include bars with no food service, popcorn or snow cone operations, candy sales, convenience markets with food prep limited to the heating and holding of hot dogs, and retail food stores (excluding deli and seafood operations). Type II establishments might include food establishments with a limited menu that includes one main entrée, bars with limited food service, bakeries, schools receiving prepared meals from central kitchens, delis (limited to sandwich prep only), or fast food restaurants. Type III establishments might include full-service restaurants doing advanced food preparation, restaurants doing catering, caterers, hospitals, correctional facilities, and nursing homes, school cafeterias doing high-volume meal preparation, and retail food store delis and seafood market operations. The inspection frequency for each of the facility types is as follows:

  • Type I - Minimum of one routine inspection annually
  • Type II - Minimum of two routine inspections annually
  • Type III - Minimum of three routine inspections annually

This information is provided to help users of this site to better understand and interpret the food establishment inspection report results available here.