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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Several UA restaurants receive overdue inspections

    Lindsey Otto

    On the University of Arizona campus, there are dozens of places to go for lunch between classes. There are also numerous options along University Boulevard and tucked just off the side streets. Like any other eateries in the city, these restaurants require regular inspections by Pima County to ensure all health and safety standards are met.

    An Arizona Daily Wildcat analysis of recent health inspection grades of on- and off-campus restaurants found that while most restaurants received either Good or Excellent grades, several had not received inspections in 2017.

    Both the U-Mart, located in the Student Union Memorial Center, and Fuel, located in the Recreation Center, received health inspections in December 2016, but lapsed until earlier this month.

    Pima County Health Department Sanitation Supervisor Loni Anderson said the department is currently going through their inspection list to address restaurants behind on their annual inspections.

    “One of the concerns is just ensuring that we are covering everything,” she said. “We just have so many facilities…there are over 4,000 permits and we’re trying to keep up with them, but we are definitely hiring.”

    According to Anderson, staffing is the main reason these locations didn’t receive inspections in 2017. The department is currently looking to hire five new employees so they can complete all health inspections at the required frequency.

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    How often a location is inspected is based on a risk assessment ranking assigned when a permit is issued. Anderson said that, ideally, higher risk categories would receive three inspections a year, and the lowest risks would receive at least one annually. 

    “It really depends on what type of food preparation they are doing,” Anderson said. “A facility that’s preparing raw animal foods would be a more increased risk for food-borne illness, and we would inspect those more frequently in the year, versus maybe a convenience store that’s just a level one risk.” 

    Because staffing numbers are low, the health department focuses their inspections on high-risk categories, and sometimes must pull inspectors from other areas. 

    After receiving a list of three area restaurants without 2017 inspections from the Wildcat on Jan.18, the health department quickly resolved the issue. The U-Mart received an Excellent rating on Jan. 18 and Fuel also earned an Excellent on Jan. 23. 

    Maddy Linn, left, orders a chicken and spinach salad at Core in the UA Student Union from employee Aliah Robinson, right, on Jan. 10, 2013. Core is a popular spot for salads due to their rich selection of "superfoods," veggies, ancient grains and more.
    Maddy Linn, left, orders a chicken and spinach salad at Core in the UA Student Union from employee Aliah Robinson, right, on Jan. 10, 2013. Core is a popular spot for salads due to their rich selection of “superfoods,” veggies, ancient grains and more.

    Despite the year gap in inspections, the Arizona Student Unions have regular procedures and policies in place to keep the 25,000 meals served there daily safe. 

    Marketing and Communications Manager Neysha Aguilar said that the Student Unions strive for every location to be “top notch.” 

    “From the bottom up, we make sure the entire staff, from students to full timers, are aware of steps to take to make sure the food that we provide is clean and it’s safe to consume, not only for students but the staff, facility, grads and visitors,” she said. 

    The Student Unions also welcome feedback, which Aguilar handles directly and addresses immediately. 

    “Whatever feedback we get is immediately sent back to the manager that oversees the space and they directly contact the student, staff or faculty, whoever provided the feedback, and we make sure they end up being happy with our process, our customer service experience, as well as our product,” she said. 

    Overall, restaurants at both the main student union and Park Student Union fared well in their most recent inspections. Close to 20 union locations received Excellent grades, including the Arizona Room and NRich Urban Market. An additional three, Pangea, La Petite Patisserie and Cactus Grill, received Good ratings. 

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    Main Gate Square restaurants also did well, with about 12 Excellent and seven Good grades. 

    Oriental Express, a Chinese restaurant on University Boulevard located above Pelio Grill, was one of the three restaurants that did not receive inspections in 2017. It received a rating of Good in December 2016. 

    Employee Thuy Bo said the health department regularly shows up for its annual inspection, and that the owners of Oriental Express ensure daily quality standards are met.

    “They (the owners) have been here about 30 years, so they know exactly what to do,” she said. “Since they don’t have a lot of helpers in the kitchen, that’s why they just keep it up.”

    Oriental Express has since been inspected, earning an Excellent rating on Jan. 18. 

    Of the 65 restaurants reviewed by the Daily Wildcat, six in total received a pass grade, meaning a previously noted violation was corrected by the restaurant. Though the health department does not schedule set dates for their inspections, most of the restaurants on and near campus will receive at least one inspection this year.

    Did we miss your favorite place to eat? Email us at or visit to use their restaurant ratings database.

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