Local food service businesses earn awards

EVERETT — Arlington and Marysville food service businesses were well-represented in the Snohomish Health District’s Food Safety Excellence Awards for 2013.

EVERETT — Arlington and Marysville food service businesses were well-represented in the Snohomish Health District’s Food Safety Excellence Awards for 2013.

Gary Hanada, food program manager for the Snohomish Health District, presented awards on Tuesday, Feb. 11, for excellence in food safety to Arlington’s Country Burger and Walmart, and to Ohanna BBQ, which has served the Marysville Strawberry Festival.

Hanada noted that, of the 4,500 food permit holders in Snohomish County, only seven winners in six categories received these awards for the past year, after being scrutinized by the Snohomish Health District’s food safety inspectors and its Food Advisory Committee, the latter made up of restaurant owners, managers, chefs and food safety specialists who volunteer their time to advise the Health District.

“Our 11-person food safety inspection team visits almost 4,500 food establishments up to three times a year,” Hanada said. “Our 23-member Food Advisory Committee makes its selections based on a tough review of at least a year’s worth of inspection reports.”

Hanada credited David Babeaux, owner of Country Burger in Arlington, with keeping his staff well-trained in food safety practices.

“Under Mr. Babeaux’s management, the business has become one of the cleanest and best operated food facilities in Snohomish County,” Hanada said.

“We’re very careful about what we do,” Babeaux said. “Our workplace is like a fishbowl, because there’s windows on all sides. My kids have worked with even more vigor since learning about this honor. They even spent a Saturday tearing apart our kitchen.”

While Country Burger won the award for the best fast service establishment, the Arlington Walmart was tied for first in the grocery store category with the Snohomish Haggen’s.

“This store is noted for its excellent sanitation practices, and for management’s involvement with daily operations,” Hanada said.

“On paper, policies mean nothing,” Arlington Walmart Store Manager Fritz Fittinger said. “It’s my associates who bring those guidelines to life. Especially since we’re open 24/7, it’s an honor to be recognized for keeping up our standards throughout that time.”

Hanada acknowledged that the Ohanna BBQ is a fairly new operation, but commended owner Edward Grammer for establishing progressive food safety practices when inspected at the Marysville Strawberry Festival.

“It is a challenge,” Grammer said. “When you’re outdoors, you’re dealing with dust, rain and everything.”

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