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In response to 100 observations of health code violations in Penn Dining locations after the most recent food safety inspections, a new action plan for meeting health and safety regulations was announced today.

Credit: Max Mester

Penn Dining will create a new action plan for meeting health and safety regulations in campus dining facilities and pledged to be transparent with its cleaning procedures after inspections found numerous violations of Philadelphia health code.

In an email sent to students and parents on Tuesday morning, Penn Dining said it understood that there was “considerable concern in the campus community” about the inspections. A statement linked in the email described the results of the inspections as “unacceptable” and said that “swift actions” had been taken to address concerns.

The statement comes days after The Daily Pennsylvanian detailed 100 observations of health code violations in Penn Dining locations during their most recent food safety inspections conducted by the Philadelphia Office of Food Protection. Hill House and 1920 Commons were found to not be in satisfactory compliance with the Philadelphia health code.

“As was acknowledged in Bon Appetit’s/Penn’s collective response to the DP reporter, health inspections are part of a process of continuous improvement and are a snapshot in time to help food service operations identify procedures for ensuring ongoing compliance,” the statement read, referring to its food service contractor, Bon Appetit Management Company.

In the statement, Penn Dining said that its facilities have not had repeated violations that went uncorrected or severe violations. In addition, it said that a majority of the violations cited during the inspection were corrected immediately or soon afterwards, and it had taken additional long-term action to prevent future violations.

While 1920 Commons passed its regular annual inspection, according to the statement, the dining hall is up for reinspection after the health department performed an unscheduled visit due to bird sightings within the facility. According to Penn Dining, the birds were found to have flown into 1920 Commons from an open loading dock and were removed by a wildlife trapper. Protective curtains were installed to prevent the incident from occurring again.

The two most recent inspections of 1920 Commons on Oct. 3 and Jan. 18, respectively, had some violations with the same description. For example, both inspections observed “visible physical evidence of insect activity” and cutting boards with “deep scratches and scoring.”

Hill House also did not pass its annual inspection and is up for reinspection. To address observations of fruit flies, Penn Dining said that traps have been set and the biodigester — which was determined to be the source of the problem — has been relocated. The facility has also undergone a deep cleaning.

Penn Dining also addressed the observed sightings of mouse droppings, saying that a professional service is conducting weekly pest inspections. Penn Dining said that Northeast Extermination, the campus's pest control service, is working to begin daily visits to the buildings. 

The statement claimed that in the past five years, no foodborne illnesses have been traced back to food provided to Penn Dining food service-related items, adding that concerns of foodborne illness are investigated by Bon Appetit’s corporate director of integrated safety, Compass Group’s quality assurance team, and the on-campus senior team.

College first year Bach Hoang said that he had personally not experienced any health issues arising from food at Hill House and praised Penn for taking steps to address it. However, he said that he has seen a significant number of dirty plates and dirty utensils, and more of his friends were avoiding Hill House after learning of the health code violations.

“It’s good that they’re going to address it. It’s good that they realize that there is a problem, but I doubt that there is actually going to be any change, knowing how Penn is,” Hoang said. “If they do keep with what they promised, then I think we will be alright.”

Penn Dining said that it was addressing the situation with “the highest priority” and was determined to “restoring” the Penn community’s confidence in its services.

“[W]e recognize that public perception of health department violations is that any violation is critical,” the statement said. “Please know that our goal is always to aim for inspections with zero violations.”