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Mar 13, 2014 11:52 PM by Sean Mooney

Kitchen Cops: Restaurants cited for "hand-ling" food

TUCSON - The Pima County Health Department sends out its army of inspectors every week, their mission, keeping eating establishments throughout Southern Arizona safe for you and your family.

Harvest Restaurant, at 10355 N. La Canada, received six critical violations. An employee plated two grilled sandwiches with their bare hands. The food was then sent to customers. Another employee re-arranged french fries on a finished plate to be served to a customer. Food employees may not touch exposed, ready to eat food, with their bare hands.

A bucket labeled "sanitizer" held in-use utensils. The water was described as cloudy with oil and debris. Utensils were being used to place food on a grill. No sanitizer was detected in the water when tested. Several food items stored in containers were not properly date marked.

With six critical violations, Harvest Restaurant, was given a "Provisional" rating.

Harvest Restaurant management issued a statement saying, "We have a strict policy regarding proper use of gloves & sanitizer solutions. It's unfortunate that one employee's mistake has caused us to fail an inspection. We recognize the seriousness of the violations & go through cases of gloves & sanitizers each week as a result of following these policies & do not anticipate this to be an issue again."

Pats Drive In, at 1202 W. Niagara, received seven critical violations. An employee was observed placing lettuce, onions and pickles on hamburgers with their bare hands. Two pots of chili and a box of hot dogs, reportedly opened the day prior, were not properly date marked. An employee was seen washing greasy utensils at the back of the facility near a cement pad with waste water running off of it. With seven critical violations, Pat's Drive In, was given a "Provisional" rating.

In a statement, the owners of Pat's Drive In said, "We have been in business for over 50 years and this is the first time we have received this type of rating. We feel that this was an unfair evaluation and have since coordinated a meeting with PCHD to discuss our concerns. We are honored to serve the community and we would never put our customer's wellbeing at risk. Since 2000, we have received 25 passing ratings which include excellent standards by PCHD guidelines. The violation resulting from this poor rating is for an issue outside of the building, away from the food preparation and customer areas. We look forward to rectifying this matter."

Last week, we told you about Olsen's Marketplace, in Ajo, at 1961 N. Ajo Gila Bend Highway, receiving a "Provisional" rating. The Pima County Health Department has reported that Olsen's Marketplace failed re-inspection.

Restaurants awarded excellent ratings include, Pastiche, at 3025 N. Campbell, Panera Bread at 4362 N. Oracle and Golden Dragon Restaurant, at 4704 E. Sunrise Dr.

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