Behind the scenes of WCHD food inspection
Many in Northern Nevada love dining out, but one mistake in those restaurants could lead to a hospital visit.
The Washoe County health district performs food inspections up to twice a year in restaurants. At BJ's Nevada Barbecue Company, Kristen Debraga, a Washoe County Health Specialist starts where a majority of violations are found, the hand wash station. Next, is the front line where all the food is handled before sending it out to the guest.
Food found within 42 to 134 degrees is a temperature range where food-borne bacteria can grow, this is also known as the danger zone.
"Food-borne illness can range from just some basic stomach distress to lifelong health issues, kidney problems, and even death," said Debraga.
Another important area for observation is where the food is being stored, like refrigerators and freezers. BJ’s walk-in follows the regulations, their raw chicken and meat is found on the bottom and precooked food is on the top, this avoids raw juices from contaminating other items. Everything is expected to be properly labeled with the date it was placed into the walk-in.
“We have a checklist of over 50 items of things we are looking for, so some of these items are considered critical and if they are not in compliance they will contribute directly to making someone sick," Debraga explains.
Inspectors' grades are based on a color-coded system. A good restaurant is graded green, one with minor violations will get a yellow, and serious violations will result in red. Jay Rathmann, Owner of BJ’s Barbecue said these inspections are vital to their operations.
"We try to, at our best, follow through with that procedure, safe, consistent product every time," said Rathmann.
Chris Payne, said these inspections take a large weight off of his shoulders.
"You're not worrying about whether or not they are washing their hands, or whether their utensils are clean because with Washoe county health department coming through every restaurant on a regular basis should be up to par," Payne explains.
From fast food to sit down dinners, health leaders are making sure everything we eat is safe both when it’s served and behind the scenes.
The Washoe County Health District released a free mobile app called
that gives you the chance to review all Washoe County inspection results.