RESTAURANT REPORT CARD: Southside spot struggled with food safety

KOLD Restaurant Report Card: Mexican eatery struggled with food safety

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Mexican restaurant on the southwest side of Tucson was cited for something that could make you sick.

According to an inspection report from the Pima County Health Department, a customer even filed a complaint claiming he had to go to the hospital after eating a burrito he picked up from the restaurant on Valencia Road near Mission.

La Casita De Molina was handed a “needs improvement” ranking by the health department earlier this month during a routine inspection following that foodborne illness complaint.

In the kitchen, an inspector cited issues with food temperature control.

Cold holding is the Food and Drug Administration’s simple way of saying all cold food must be kept under 41 degrees. Health officials say in temperatures above that, bacteria could spread quickly on food you eat and could get you sick.

The most common violation resulting from restaurant health inspections is something called cold holding, according to the Health Department.

At La Casita de Molina, an inspector noted ingredients like vegetables, cheese and butter were all being held above 41 degrees.

An inspector also noted some things thawing, like menudo and soup, was at room temperature. In this case, food that is thawing needs to be cooled under refrigerated conditions or under running water at 70 degrees or below.

Another violation was the lack of proper labeling on food items. The inspector noted food prepared days before, like rice, chicken and broth, were not labeled with a discard date. According to the health department, all food needs to be date marked if held for more than 24 hours after preparation.

Foodborne illness complaint filed with the Pima County Health Department.
Foodborne illness complaint filed with the Pima County Health Department. (Source: Pima County Health Department)

During the re-inspection at La Casita de Molina, the health department closed the complaint. According to the report, the restaurant was not aware of the customer’s issue and hadn’t had any other similar cases. The inspector noted no employees reported being sick and all the ingredients that would have been used for the burrito were held at the proper temperature.

With no cold holding issues during the re-inspection on Feb. 18, the restaurant passed the re-inspection.

For restaurants and facilities doing it right, here are a few spots around Tucson that earned an “excellent” rating in February. These facilities scored the top rating, but did have to fix a few small things after inspectors stopped by.

  • McDonald’s: 2990 W Valencia Rd.
  • Starbucks: 6291 E Speedway Blvd.
  • Burger King: 8702 E Broadway Blvd.

To check reports for restaurants, school campuses, campgrounds and lodging in Pima County, click HERE.

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