Enviro~Connections (June 17, 2021)

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June 17, 2021


About Us

Maricopa County Environmental Services provides essential, regional environmental services seeking to prevent and remove environmental health risks. The Department’s Environmental Health Specialists and Field Technicians are in the community every day making sure that among other things, food in all the eating and drinking establishments in the County is protected from contamination, that water supplies throughout the County are safe to drink, and that vector borne health illnesses and risks are minimized. It is our belief that with continued support, future generations will reap the benefits of today’s actions.

Need assistance en Español or in 中文 for your food related business?


Nuestros representantes o enlaces para negocios hispanos de venta de alimentos están disponibles para asistirles entendiendo las necesidades culturales de su negocio y asistiéndoles en su idioma.

Do you need to make sure that your ethnic foods meet Maricopa County Health Code standards? Our language liaisons are available to assist you!

Chinese Words


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What You Need to Know About Internet Food Sales & the Cottage Food Program

Restaurant Open

Maricopa County Environmental Services (MCESD) supports local businesses and their efforts in providing safe food to county residents and its visitors. Most food sales in Maricopa County, whether on the internet or in person, require proper food permitting and inspection. 

As required in the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code, Chapter 1, Regulation 4(a),

“No person shall conduct an operation or an establishment for which a permit is required without holding the necessary and valid permit to do so.”


Other than those that fall under the AZ Cottage Food Program, food that is prepared from a private residence is not inspected by Maricopa County and therefore there is no guarantee it has been prepared safely using adequate hand washing and temperature control. These measures are vital to ensure food is safe to eat and will not make anyone sick.

MCESD Food Inspection

Preventing foodborne illness and health risks requires not only regulation and guidance, but also the public's assistance in supporting business operations that strive to be in compliance. If you observe food code violations or have concerns, you may discuss this with the operator and feel free to contact our department for proper follow-up.  

One area of concern for consumers is the online sale of food products that may be prepared without the benefit of inspection and food safety controls. When complaints are received for the online sale of products from an unknown source, we attempt to reach out to the seller to determine if the product is made in a permitted kitchen or under the Cottage Food Program. 

Dirty Kitchen

Oftentimes, we do not receive a response from the seller and are unable to determine where the product is made, which makes it difficult to address the complaint and ensure unsafe products from unapproved sources are removed from commerce. In these cases, we encourage consumers to evaluate the safety of the product by asking where it is made and making an informed decision before consuming a product.  

If you still have questions or have a related concern, you may submit a complaint to our department by calling: (602) 506-6616 or by filing an Online Complaint Form

For more information, visit our MCESD Website page: Internet Food Sales & Cottage Food.

Green Pools and Chlorine Tablet Shortage

With summer upon us you may be planning to spend your time outdoors in or around the swimming pool.

Swimming Pool - Public

With proper maintenance, a pool provides a fun way to keep cool. Unfortunately, if it is not properly maintained, you may be greeted by an itchy annoyance that can not only ruin your plans, but also can be dangerous: mosquitoes! Mosquitoes need water to breed, and swimming pools have the potential to become ideal breeding spots for these pesky critters.

Now is a good time to make sure swimming pools are in good order and not attracting mosquitoes. This applies to all pools: residential, semi-public or public pools. Some things to look for are:

  • Is the water clear – can you see to the bottom?
  • Is chlorine at the proper level?
  • Is the pool pump operating?

Maintaining the recommended level of chlorine is the most important activity in terms of ensuring your pool and hot tub are clean and safe to use. This year there has been a nationwide shortage on chlorine tablets (“Shortage Update: Chlorine Plant Being Rebuilt, Due Spring 2022”).

Chlorine Tablet Shortage

Check with your local pool supply store or service provider for options if this shortage has affected you.

Regardless of chlorine levels, what you need to do to prevent mosquito breeding is make sure the water pump is working properly, circulating the water..

Even if chlorine levels are low or the pool is “off color” or  “green”, the pool will not breed mosquitoes if the pump is allowed to run for several hours each day. 

Green Pool

Every year, Maricopa County Environmental Services Department (MCESD) receives and responds to complaints about “green pools”.  Our Vector Control Specialists contact property owners to ensure that “green pools” are addressed so they don’t become mosquito breeding sources.

If the pump is not working, one option that we can provide – at no charge - is the Gambusia AKA mosquito eating fish. The Gambusia is a tiny fish that has adapted to feed at the water’s surface. Just one female Gambusia can eat several hundred mosquito larvae in a day, and 15 can clean a pool that’s full of mosquito larvae.

Mosquito eating fish

To confirm availability and to schedule a pick-up during office hours (Monday through Friday - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm) please call us at:  (602) 506-0700. Please bring your own container to transport the Gambusia home.

Finally, but just as important, do what you can to avoid mosquito bites: apply insect repellent according to label instructions, wear light colored clothing, avoid outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active, and when possible, wear long pants and sleeves.

If you see mosquitoes, green pools, or suspect there is a mosquito breeding site in your neighborhood, feel free to contact MCESD. You may submit your complaint online or by calling (602) 506-6616.

For more information, visit: FightTheBiteMaricopa.org.

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