FAQs

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We are here to help answer all of your environmental health questions.  If you cannot locate an answer to your question, please email the Environmental Health Department.

 

How can I tell if an establishment is permitted by your office?

Establishments permitted by the Department of Environmental Health are required to post their permit in a place that is conspicuous to the public. The permit for Navajo County has the County seal across the top, lists the establishment name, the permit type, and the timeframe that the permit is valid for.

Are establishments required to post inspection results?

Although encouraged by the Department of Environmental Health, Arizona Food Code does not
require establishments to post inspection results. To obtain inspection reports please request a voluntary copy from the establishment or submit a Navajo County public records request form.

Does your department test well water samples?

Our department does not conduct any water testing.  Testing for private well water can be completed by an accredited laboratory. Click the links below for a listing of current Arizona Department of Health Services accredited laboratories and general information on private wells.

What can I do if I have health concerns related to mold or bed bugs in my rental home or apartment?

Arizona state law only grants our department the authority to inspect public accommodations such as Hotels. Health related concerns for mold and pests can be addressed according to the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

Below are additional educational resources on mold and bed bugs.

Below is a link to AZ community resources and referral services that may be able to assist with landlord tenant dispute resolution.

I am concerned about the conditions I observed at a permitted establishment. What can I do to address my concerns?

The Department of Environmental Health encourages patrons to communicate concerns to the person in charge of the establishment in order to allow the business an opportunity to remedy the situation. If concerns still exist a complaint can be filed with our department for investigation.

Where can I find information about building or maintaining a septic system?

The Department of Environmental Health does not inspect new septic systems. Please contact the Navajo County Planning and Zoning department regarding building of septic systems.

For information on maintaining a septic system please contact your systems manufacturer in regards to maintenance requirements. For general information on septic system maintenance, please see resources developed by the University of Minnesota septic system website.

I am starting a new business, am I required to obtain a health permit?

Navajo County Ordinance PH 01-09 requires the following businesses to obtain a health permit; Food & Beverage establishments, Hotels & Motels, Trailer Coach Parks, Camp Grounds, Public & Semi-Public Swimming Pools/Spas, and Septage Haulers; in accordance with ARS Title 9, Chapter 8 and ARS Title 18, Chapter 13. Click the link below for the permit application.

Businesses operating under the Arizona Department of Health Services Home Baked and Confectionary Good program are considered exempt from the above requirements.

Can I utilize a health permit from a previous owner or another location?
A new business owner is not permitted to operate under a previous owner’s permit or transfer a permit to another location. State law requires that new owners submit a new permit application. Food and Beverage establishments are also required to undergo a plan review and pre-operational inspection prior to commencing operations.
How can I learn more about the building requirements for my type of restaurant?
The Department of Environmental Health has guidance manuals available for fixed establishments, mobile food establishments, and temporary food establishments. We recommend that new business owners and contractors review guidance (see permits/licensing for food & beverage) to help streamline the approval process. Businesses should also adhere to all current fire, plumbing, and electrical codes required. Pre-operational inspections are available upon request.
How long does it take to obtain a permit for my restaurant?
The Department of Environmental Health is required to adhere to licensing timeframes outlined in Arizona Administrative Code. Applicants can expedite the process by reviewing all applicable guidance and by submitting complete information (plans, menu, equipment specs, finish schedules, etc.) at initial application submission.
Are pets allowed in food establishments? What is the best way to address my concerns?

In general, animals/pets are not allowed in a food establishment unless under approved circumstances. Arizona Food Code (6-501.115) prohibits animals from being present in food preparation areas of food establishments due to risk of contamination. Service animals and patrol dogs are allowed in areas not designated for food preparation such as dining and sales areas, provided no risk exists for the potential contamination of food, equipment, utensils, or linens. Pets are also allowed in group homes or residential care facilities at times other than meal service provided no risk exists for the potential contamination of food, equipment, utensils, or linens. The Department of Environmental Health encourages patrons to communicate concerns to the person in charge of the establishment when concerns related to the presence of animals in the facility exist. Please see the following links, for additional information regarding service animals.

How do I know that an official inspection is being conducted at my restaurant?
Upon initiation of an inspection, an inspector will show a County issued photo identification and inform the person in charge of the purpose of the inspection.
Am I required to allow an inspector entry to my restaurant if the owner or manager is not present?

Arizona Food Code (8-402.11) requires the person in charge to allow an inspector to determine compliance to food code by allowing access to the establishment, allowing inspection, and providing information and records specified by code during the establishment’s hours of operations. Failure to allow inspection is considered a violation of permit terms (8-304.11 F) and may be grounds for immediate permit suspension. Food code defines the Person in Charge as, “the individual present at a food establishment who is responsible for the operation at time of inspection”. For this reason, an owner or manager is not required to be present during an inspection.

Is my restaurant allowed to serve a raw or undercooked food?

Arizona Food Code (3-603.11) allows establishments to serve raw or undercooked foods provided that a suitable consumer advisory is present. The consumer advisory is required to disclose the food item that may be served raw or undercooked. An asterisk, star, or other suitable symbol is often used to disclose menu items that may be served raw or undercooked. In addition to the disclosure, a reminder informing the consumer of the risk associated with consuming the disclosed food must be present. The following is an example of an approved reminder:

*Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase the risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.<

The consumer advisory is required to be present at the point of selection (menu, menu board, specials board, etc.) so that the consumer is advised of the risk prior to ordering or consumption. Establishments may not use blanket disclosures to include all foods on a menu if they are not available raw or undercooked. The intent of the consumer advisory is to ensure that all consumers are properly informed of the risk of eating raw and undercooked foods. A consumer advisory does not allow an establishment to ignore other foodborne illness risk factor prevention measures for approved source, personal hygiene, cross contamination, cold storage, etc., for these foods.

What is the difference between a food manager certification and a food handler certification?

A food manager certification is designed for management level employees responsible for overall operations in a food establishment. The certified food protection manager certification includes a comprehensive proctored exam covering complex food safety principles and a focus on Active Managerial Control to reduce foodborne illness risk.

A food handler certification is designed for front line employees involved in the handling of open foods. Food handler courses cover basic food safety principles and may include a review/exam to check for employee understanding of basic food safety principles.

Are there any food handler and manager certifications that are recommended?

The Department of Environmental Health strongly encourages all businesses to require food handler certifications for employees to improve overall compliance and better protect public health. The department is in process of developing an ordinance that requires certification.

The Department of Environmental Health accepts all ANSI/CFP approved Food Protection Manager Certifications as required in Arizona Food Code (2-102.11) and recommends Food Handler Certifications in accordance with Arizona State Law (HB 2436). Clink the links below for more information on accredited programs.