I started my career in public health working as a county Sanitarian doing inspections of restaurants, motels and the like in the mid- 1980s. My area was right around here down toward South Mountain and I inspected the cafeteria in the basement of the Executive Tower and the cafeteria that used to be on the 4th floor of the 1740 Adams DHS building . It doesn’t seem like that was 25 years ago, but life is funny that way. Anyway, I guess it’s both a blessing and a curse for the folks in environmental health that I started my career that way, because I know all about their stuff.
Our core environmental health responsibilities include administering the statewide public health sanitation program for food safety, bottled water, hotels and motels, children’s camps, public schools, and public and semi-public swimming pools. We delegate the actual inspection work to the county health departments. Statewide, there are about 170 Sanitarians that are employed by the counties that inspect the roughly 34,500 restaurants and food stores in AZ. We just finished our FY ’10 Annual Report. Last fiscal year the Sanitarians completed about 72,000 food safety inspections and about 95,000 overall inspections (including school grounds, swimming pools, trailer parks, motels and hotels.)