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County releases restaurant, cafeteria ratings

By Staff
Lowest, highest in the county
By CHRISTINA HALE
Staff Writer
When choosing a restaurant, be sure to look for the sanitation grade, Vera MacConnell with Beaufort County Health Department said Wednesday.
MacConnell works in the environmental-health section of the department, which is responsible for food-safety inspections and restaurant ratings in the county.
Most restaurants in Beaufort County received A’s — 90 points or more — for sanitation grades, but three each have a B and one has a C, according to a report from the state. MacConnell said anything below a C grade results in an establishment being shut down.
All of the school, nursing home and hospital cafeterias in Beaufort County received A’s, according to the environmental health office.
Among the restaurants, the lowest score was a 73, given to El Rodeo No. 2 on Bridge Street in Washington on Sept. 10. The past two inspections, also conducted this year, ranked El Rodeo at a 93 and an 84.5.
Buddy’s Family Restaurant on U.S. Highway 17 in Washington received the second-lowest grade of 83.5 on June 15, but received a 92 in March, according to the report.
Dragon Garden on Carolina Avenue in Washington received a 92 in March, but fell to an 85. 5 by September 18. Slatestone Grill on Slatestone Road in Washington had an 83 in February, went up to a 90 in May, but recently earned an 86 on Aug. 13.
Health officials are required to inspect restaurants four times a year, MacConnell said Wednesday.
Health inspectors look for five risk factors: poor employee hygiene; contaminated equipment; inadequate cooking; improper holding temperatures when cooling or reheating food from unsafe sources; and using food from unsafe sources.
El Rodeo No. 2 received demerits in many of the risk categories, including improper food holding temperatures and using food from unsafe sources.
Food contact surfaces needed to be cleaned and sanitized, and wastewater had to be discharged into approved, properly operating waste water treatment and disposal system. El Rodeo also received demerits in storage and handling of clean equipment and utensils and animal and pests presence, according to the report.
Restaurants with anything lower than an A grade can be reinspected within 15 days. Health inspectors can come out on request strictly to educate employees so that a restaurant can improve.
The highest sanitation grade a restaurant can get is a 100. An extra two points are available if a kitchen manager passes a food safety course.
Dudley’s Corner Mart &Grill on Old Sandhill Road in Edward had the highest grade of 102, according to the last inspection reported. Back Bay Cafe on Pamlico Street in Belhaven was next with 101.
By law, the grade must be visible to customers as they come in the door or pull up to a drive-in window.
All inspections sheets are public record. Area restaurant ratings can be viewed online through the Beaufort County Health Department’s Web site at www.bchd.net.