As students complete their first month of the fall semester, Loyola Dining Services are preparing for their annual health and safety inspection.
Dining services include Lakeshore Dining, Simpson Dining, Rambler Room, Connections Café, Center Stage Café, Southside Market and Union Station at the Lake Shore Campus, and Terry Food Court and Nina’s Café at the Water Tower Campus.
Inspections of these facilities take place once per year during the fall semester. The Protection Division of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) conducts the inspections to ensure all dining services are performing efficiently.
Some students and employees said they think an inspection should be held more than once a year.
“I think that inspections should be increased to make sure that dining halls are up to state standard because bacteria can travel quickly at a university,” said Patrick Kelly, 21, a junior secondary education major. “[But] for the most part I would say that Loyola’s dining facilities are somewhat clean. For the amount of people that use the facilities, it is pretty good.”
An employee of Aramark, who has worked for Loyola Dining Services for 28 years, agrees that inspections should be held more often.
“I think there should be at least two inspections each year because of what I have seen,” said Janet Irving. “People [employees] tend to slack off when they know there is only one inspection. They need to be kept on their toes.”
Last year’s Sept. 27 inspection found “brown and pink mold-like substances inside ice machine dripping back into ice,” at one of the dining facilities, according to the annual health inspection report listed for Loyola’s Dining Services on the City of Chicago’s Public Health website.
The report did not provide the exact dining location where this mold was found.
However, the facility received a “Pass with Conditions” status, which is given if “the business has serious or critical violations that are corrected during the inspection,” according to the City of Chicago’s Public Health website.
Resident District Manager of Dining Services for Aramark, Amy Trujillo, had a different explanation for this incident.
She said this particular inspection did pass, despite the online report stating that it “passed with conditions.” She said the ice machine was no longer in use, so it was not an issue for the inspection.
Some students do not think Loyola’s dining facilities meet health and safety standards even though they have no concrete evidence of any inspection violations.
Junior public relations major Michelle Cammenga, 20, was not surprised by the idea of mold in an ice machine.
“Employees look like they don’t follow the rules … my freshman year I saw an employee touch raw meat, and then made a sandwich for one of my friends.”
Sophomore biology and dance double major, Margaret Ulland, agreed.
“You just get the feeling that it’s not always clean,” said Ulland, 20. “Last year the serving line for the ‘main food’ would get really messy … one of the workers would come with a super dirty rag and wipe everything up and then touch food without changing gloves.”
Another dining facility, Rambler Room, also received a “Pass with Conditions” status last year.
“The Rambler Room cooler wasn’t keeping the correct temperature, so the Health Department passed us with conditions,” Trujillo said. “The food was still okay … one of the coolers just wasn’t maintaining a steady temperature.”
Trujillo said the cooler was the deli prep cooler that “holds the meats and cheeses for the sandwich prep.” It was fixed within 24 hours and then their inspection officially passed.
Aside from these two cases, Trujillo said the rest of the dining facilities have received “Pass” statuses since her arrival at Loyola in 2010. Records prior to 2011 are not available on the City of Chicago’s Public Health website.
“A status of ‘Pass’ is given if the business meets the minimum requirements of the municipal code and does not have serious or critical violations present during the inspection,” according to the City of Chicago’s Public Health website.
Some students have no concerns about the dining facilities’ health and safety standards.
“When I had a meal plan, I ate every day in the dining halls. I never had any issues personally … I always thought employees followed protocol every year,” said junior English and dance double major Rachel Natale, 20.
According to Trujillo, before the CDPH makes its appearance on campus this year, EcoSure, a third party contractor will evaluate the dining services’ health and safety performance.
Along with preparing the dining facilities for their upcoming inspections, Trujillo said EcoSure educates the staff of Aramark in order to solve any issues that might arise during the inspections with the CDPH. This third party contractor has been partnered with Loyola Dining Services for three years.
She further explained that EcoSure asks Aramark staff questions to make sure all employees are aware of the proper procedures of handling food and kitchen equipment.
Trujillo said EcoSure’s visit to Loyola each year “allows us to have double preparedness.”
EcoSure is scheduled to arrive at Loyola the week of Sept. 17-21, Trujillo said.
by Ashley Mastervich