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Which Whatcom County restaurants got top marks for food safety?

The storefront outside Mount Bakery in downtown Bellingham on May 27, 2016. The restaurant is one of 32 to receive a 2015 Silver Platter Award from the Whatcom County Health Department for excellent food safety.
The storefront outside Mount Bakery in downtown Bellingham on May 27, 2016. The restaurant is one of 32 to receive a 2015 Silver Platter Award from the Whatcom County Health Department for excellent food safety. kmittan@bhamherald.com

Thirty-two eateries and food trucks in Whatcom County are being recognized for doing an excellent job of keeping your food safe.

As a result, the Whatcom County Health Department is giving them a 2015 Silver Platter Award for meeting its stringent criteria.

Restaurants must comply with Washington State Retail Food Code and receive excellent scores on food safety inspections to be considered for the award.

During such inspections, the health department shows up unannounced and walks through a 50-item checklist to make sure workers are doing things like washing their hands properly, storing and cooking food at the right temperatures for safety, and regularly cleaning areas where food is stored, prepared and served.

So why does it matter?

Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in six people are sickened by contaminated food or drinks each year.

Still, don’t be alarmed if your favorite eatery didn’t get a Silver Platter this time around.

For one thing, the health department doesn’t inspect every restaurant in Whatcom County each year. Last year, it inspected about 850 out of an estimated 1,300 licensed establishments.

The 32 places that received awards make up about 3.7 percent of the 850 inspected.

“The Silver Platter Award really is designed to be very exclusive,” said Tom Kunesh, food safety program supervisor for the health department.

Furthermore, if serious food handling problems are found, they must be corrected before an inspector will leave, Kunesh said.

“Inclusion on the list is a good thing. Exclusion from the list is not necessarily a bad thing,” he added.

The following Whatcom County establishments are recipients of 2015 Silver Platter Awards:

▪ AFC Sushi in Fred Meyer on Lakeway Drive

▪ BelleWood Acres

▪ Bob’s Burgers & Brew in Sumas

▪ Burger King in Lynden

▪ Coffee Junction

▪ Costco pizza shop/food court

▪ Dairy Queen in Ferndale and on Iowa Street in Bellingham

▪ Edaleen Dairy on East Grover Street in Lynden

▪ El Albanil

▪ Grant’s Burgers food trailer

▪ Jalapenos, Harris Avenue and West Holly Street locations

▪ JT’s Smokin’ BBQ food truck

▪ Meadow Greens retirement community in Lynden

▪ Mount Bakery

▪ Mt. Baker Ski Area — Raven Hut Lodge and White Salmon Day Lodge locations

▪ Newhalem General Store

▪ Papa Murphy’s on Guide Meridian Road in Lynden

▪ QQ Li’s at Western Washington University

▪ Ralf’s Bavarian Bakery

▪ Red Robin

▪ Safeway in Lynden, in the part of the grocery store that has a hot case with Asian foods like stir-fry

▪ 7-Eleven, Northwest Avenue and Alabama Street locations

▪ Subway, Sunset Drive and Guide Meridian locations in Bellingham

▪ Starvin’ Sam’s on Nooksack Road

▪ Tacos El Mexicano food truck

▪ Tacos El Tule food truck

▪ The Haven Market at WWU

Awards may be posted in each of the establishments. People with questions about the Silver Platter Award can call the Whatcom County Health Department’s Food Safety Program at 360-778-6000.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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