Health district awards county’s safest eateries

  • Wed Feb 15th, 2012 5:07pm

By Kurt Batdorf SCBJ Editor

EVERETT — The Snohomish Health District issued its 22nd annual Awards of Excellence on Tuesday to six Snohomish County businesses that serve food.

Rick Zahalka, manager for the district’s Food and Living Environment program, told the district’s Board of Health that the nominees for the 2011 awards represent less than one percent of the more than 4,300 food-service establishments in Snohomish County.

“We are privileged to have such fine operators,” Zahalka said.

The district’s 10 field inspectors submitted 36 nominations to a 24-member food advisory panel of industry peers that includes restaurant owners, operators and chefs, Zahalka said.

Each year, the health district inspects 3,050 licensed food establishments, 1,070 temporary venues and more than 200 schools and institutions, he said.

The health district created the Excellence Awards program in 1989 as a positive reinforcement of its restaurant and food service inspection program. The agency’s inspectors work with establishments — everything from espresso stands and taco wagons to sit-down restaurants with complex menus — and monitors food preparation at 25 local fairs and festivals each summer. Each operation must meet strict health standards for food safety and sanitation to maintain its permit.

“Our program provides vital information on food safety risks and how to control them,” Zahalka said. “Every retail food establishment is responsible to ensure the risks are controlled and the food they prepare is safe as well as tasty. The establishments we are recognizing today accept that responsibility, gain the required knowledge and achieve outstanding food safety.

“Members of today’s group are leaders in that effort,” he said.

The 2011 Excellence Award categories and winners:

• Full-menu establishment: The Cellar Restaurant; Cheryl Price, food and beverage manager; Smokey Point Properties, owner; 16710 Smokey Point Blvd., Arlington.

• Fast-service establishment: Taqueria el Rinconcito; Jose Guzman, owner; 607 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett

• Limited-menu establishment: Starbucks Coffee Co. No. 2809 (Alderwood mall); Nicole Stoddard, manager; Starbucks Corp., owner; 3000 184th St. SW, Lynnwood

• Grocery store: QFC No. 850; Pamela Franklin, store manager; QFC, owner; 22833 Bothell Way SE, Bothell

• School, industry, institution: Frank Love Elementary School; Pam Kline, kitchen manager; Linda Hoel, manager of food and nutrition services; Northshore School District; 303 224th St. SW, Bothell

• Temporary food establishment: Lights of Christmas; Scott Rossiter, manager; Warm Beach Camp &Conference Center, owner; 20800 Marine Drive, Stanwood

“The economy’s been really hard on these folks, especially those who don’t cut corners on safety,” Zahalka said. “These people represent that, doing the right thing.”

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102, kbatdorf@scbj.com.