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Q: In Maricopa County, restaurants are inspected quarterly for cleanliness and compliance with county health regulations. The inspection results are published as a matter of public information in The Arizona Republic. Why doesn't the Payson Roundup do the same up here?

A: Roundup publisher Richard Haddad feels doing so might be misleading and unfairly damage a restaurant's reputation.

"We don't run the restaurant health inspections because they are vague," Haddad said. "They may have a statement that says, ‘Lack of rodent control,' which simply meant they left the trash can lid open outside by accident for a few minutes. Or the cook may have a drink of water a couple inches too close to the sink and it will say something like, ‘Unsanitary conditions in the kitchen.'"

Dave Pote, director of environmental health for Gila County, agrees.

"Down in Maricopa County, they don't talk about the good (restaurants) because they don't sell air time, and when violations are corrected they often don't publicize them," he said. "So the perception of a restaurant can remain."

While the county does have new inspection criteria, Pote says it does not preclude the public from getting a false impression about a restaurant.

"Everybody has a bad day once in awhile," he said.

But county files on restaurants are public information and anyone who wants can go down to the health department and look at the information that's there.

Finally, restaurants in Gila County are inspected twice a year, and more if there is a compelling health issue.

Call 474-5251, ext. 147, to reach Roundup's What's Up? line. Leave your question on the answering machine and we'll try to find the answer.

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