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Tucson Metro Chamber’s Restaurant Advisory Council discusses future of restaurant industry in Pima County

TUCSON (KVOA) - The Tucson Metro Chamber’s Tucson Restaurant Advisory Council (TRAC) met with the Pima County Health Department’s Consumer Health and Food Safety Division to discuss updates within the division and ways to work together moving forward to benefit all parties involved in the county’s robust culinary scene. Working hand in hand with restaurants throughout the pandemic, the Health Department began issuing inspection ratings of “educational” in March 2020, this program will continue temporarily, it said in a news release Thursday.  Although all inspections are now rated as educational, inspectors are still documenting noncompliance and seeking corrective actions during the inspection.

Pima County Health Department Division Manager, Loni Anderson, said, “The Pima County Health Department appreciates the spirit of cooperation displayed by TRAC and looks forward to continuing to work with them and other industry advisory groups to develop new operating procedures that benefit the vibrant culinary community of Pima County. We believe it is important to work alongside our license holders and to continuously evaluate practices and procedures to determine what works best for everyone.”

Established at the start of the pandemic, TRAC is a committee of the Chamber led by a coalition of restaurants, and related industries who work with restaurants, to address issues important to the success of Tucson restaurants and eateries.

TRAC chair, Ray Flores of the Si Charro brand of restaurants, said, “TRAC appreciates the opportunity to create an avenue for a more open dialogue with the Pima County Health Department. Our culinary industry is critical to our community’s economic climate and ensuring its sustained health and growth is a mission shared by TRAC and the Health Department. Working together to protect our City of Gastronomy is the best way to make sure the industry is able to recover and thrive post-pandemic.”

Topics discussed during the most recent meeting between TRAC and the Pima County Health Department include:

  1. Pima County will continue to temporarily use the educational rating to help license holders address any issues that are identified during inspection and to reduce additional hardships brought on by operating during the pandemic.
  1. Pima County will continue to offer the ServSafe Food Handler Certificate Program for free. This industry leading program helps restaurant employees become more knowledgeable on basic food safety, personal hygiene, cross-contamination and allergens, time and temperature control, and cleaning and sanitization.
  1. Pima County will continue working to improve communication between the Health Department and license holders and ensure communication of changing guidelines in a timely manner.
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Chorus Nylander

Chorus Nylander is the Chief Investigative Reporter for News 4 Tucson. He is focused on giving the voiceless a voice and holding the powerful accountable.

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