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Penn’s Bon Appetit-managed dining halls received three “critical violations” of Philadelphia’s Foodborne Illness Risk Factors and Public Health Interventions this year, according to Health Department records.

The Daily Pennsylvanian took a look at the Health Department inspection process and violations at Bon Appetit dining halls on campus in 2013.

In Kings Court English College House’s dining hall, fruit was “not protected from contamination.” Einstein Bagels did not store food at the proper temperature and creamer urns were not sanitized frequently enough.

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Einstein Bagels is now in-compliance, said Stephen Scardina, the resident district manager for Bon Appetit. Kings Court English House’s dining hall is waiting for reinspection.

Currently, 11 out of 16 of Bon Appetit’s facilities at Penn were judged to be in compliance by Philadelphia’s Office of Food Protection. The remaining five are still awaiting inspection.

A “risk-based” inspection process

For a facility to be rated “in compliance,” it cannot have any “critical” violations.

Scardina explained that Philadelphia’s inspection process is “risk-based.” This means that while there are 56 items that inspectors look for which are considered important to food safety, only 27 of the items are considered critical. These 27 items, known as “Foodborne Illness Risk Factors and Public Health Interventions,” must all be met if a facility is to be considered in compliance. These include issues of storing food at proper temperatures and sanitizing surfaces that come in contact with food.

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The remaining 29 items are called “Good Retail Practices,” and can be violated without a facility being considered not in-compliance. These include washing fruit before use and preventing pests.

If a facility is found to be not in-compliance, inspectors must return within a 30 day period. If the violations have not been fixed, the facility may have its health license revoked, shutting it down.

Scardina also noted that Health Department online records are not updated regularly.

Bon Appetit also hires Eco-Sure, which to inspect all of its facilities every semester. “Eco-Sure is actually a tougher inspection than the Department of Health,” Scardina said.

All dining workers are also required to attend a food safety training session before the beginning of each semester, and safety tips are discussed at the staff meeting before each meal in the dining halls.

Critical Violations deal with food poisoning

Violations are considered critical because they encourage bacterial growth that could lead to food poisoning. Keeping food at proper temperatures is the “biggest challenge,” Jennifer Quinlan, professor of nutrition science at Drexel University, said.

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When inspected in November of this year, Einstein Bagels was found to have eight violations, two of which were critical. The inspector noted that the creamer urns were not sanitized every four hours. Several refrigerated items were not below 41 degrees Fahrenheit as required by the health code.

Einstein Bagels is now in-compliance, Scardina said. However, it is not clear whether the other six non-critical violations have been resolved, since the Office of Food Protection’s inspection records are not all up-to-date.


Rodents considered a “non-critical” violation

Health Department Records show that Hill Dining Hall received a non-critical violation for “visible physical evidence of rodent activity … [and] mouse droppings” in January 2013. When they were reinspected in September, inspectors found no rodent activity.

Students, like Engineering sophomore Stephanie Gedal, have also expressed concern about pest sightings in dining facilities. Gedal saw rodents in Engineering’s Accenture Cafe, which made her “worried about the quality of the food.”

“If [students] see mice running around in the dining area, it doesn’t mean it necessarily has anything to do with our kitchens,” Scardina said. He pointed out that since mice only need a hole the size of a number two pencil to get into a building, pest control can be difficult. Bon Appetit also has to work with the building manager to correct violations such as pests or faucets that do not work, Scardina added.

Barbara Lea-Kruger, Penn Business Services’ spokeswoman, says that students like Gedal “can help us” by contacting facility managers immediately after noticing a potential issue. “We’re all working together, but it’s difficult,” she said.

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