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Public Health keeping restaurants in check

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - The Department of Public Health says it continues to prioritize on sanitary health inspections for food and drinking establishments despite the lack of resources needed.

Environmental Health Specialist Supervisor under the Division of Environmental Health Ron Carandang says the Bureau of Inspection and Enforcement of Restaurants and Drinking Establishments is tasked with inspecting hundreds of restaurants on island.

"We're mandated by law to inspect these establishments once a quarter, so with the new placards, we also put the information as far as the next inspection date," he said.  "Right now as far as restaurants under the eating and drinking establishments, there are about close to restaurants itself. With the health regulated establishments, we regulate 3,500 establishments and also with the restaurants, we issue placards."

With his Bureau required to inspect even schools and other establishments, Carandang admits his division needs help when it comes to hiring more inspectors for the island. He says they're forced to prioritize.  "Currently we have in our bureau, four staff. And we try and prioritize on a daily basis on these activities...we're looking forward to obtaining more staff and updating our rules and regulations for eating and drinking," he said.

On top of quarterly inspections, Public Health also responds to complaints called in by individuals for a number of issues. These issues include the use of outdated foods, personnel working without a health certificate, finding rare objects in food and other things.

Said Carandang, "The issues we look for are personal hygiene, as far as any violations. Time and temperature abuse, like I said personal hygiene like washing your hands properly. If it's cold, it's 0 to 45. Hot food is 140 and above Fahrenheit temperature. Cross-contamination like using the cutting board and cutting different types of meat."

Just recently, Public Health shut down Lorwill's BBQ and Catering Service in Dededo after inspectors found roaches. In addition, they noted openings in the walls and ceilings, which have since been corrected and the stand was opened following a re-inspection.

"We do sanitary inspections," he continued.  "A lot of times, the establishments work with us to correct violations on the spot which are still noted down but they correct them and so it doesn't become a violation."

Carandang says letter grades from ‘A' to ‘D'  are issued once the inspection is complete. ‘A' is from 0 to 10 citations, a 'B' has 21 to 40 citations, a ‘C' is 41 or more and establishments with a 'D' will receive a notice of closure. If you have any concerns about practices in an eating or drinking establishment, you can contact Carandang at 735-7221.

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