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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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AU announces plan to increase transparency on dining issues after facing violations of health and safety regulations

Plan includes posting health and safety inspections and reports and addressing findings from DC Health, officials said

Following reporting from The Eagle showing multiple violations of food safety regulations at its dining facilities, American University announced plans for increased transparency and information-sharing with the community regarding health and safety for food services. 

The announcement came in a Thursday email from Bronté Burleigh-Jones, AU’s chief financial officer, vice president and treasurer, and Michael Scher, the assistant vice president of campus auxiliary services and Airlie, with other updates about the University’s dining program. Burleigh-Jones and Scher said that the email would be the first in a series of regular communications about dining at AU.

This fall, the AU Dining Program expanded its relationship with an independent third-party inspection firm to conduct additional comprehensive, random health and safety inspections of all food service facilities at AU, according to the email. 

“This expanded relationship is part of our comprehensive commitment to quality and was a key part of our efforts to address and resolve D.C. health inspection findings earlier this fall,” Burleigh-Jones and Scher said in the email. “Those findings reflected challenges in our record keeping and preventative maintenance in some of our eateries.”

The University will post new signage in TDR and MGC using the inspection firm’s five-star health and safety rating system in an effort to better inform the AU community beginning in the spring semester, according to the email. AU will also post the ratings information and all inspection reports on AU Kitchen’s website in the spring.

“Our aim is to improve transparency and information sharing with our community about the health and safety of our facilities,” Burleigh-Jones and Scher said in the email.

The email also included information about upcoming changes to AU Dining facilities, following the opening of Halal Shack and Baba’s Pizza earlier this week.

The East Campus Convenience Store will close for renovation after the end of the fall semester and reopen as AU’s first fresh market grocery store. The market will feature “more diverse, healthy product offerings” in addition to a new venue, Freshens, that will offer fresh fruit smoothies, salads and bowls.

Beginning this January, the University plans to modernize the meal plan structure to better align options for students with the financial and operational requirements for the AU Dining program. Burleigh-Jones and Scher did not provide specifics about this modernization, but said  the decision will be based on the input of student, faculty and staff representatives and will provide more information to stakeholders in January, according to the email.

Burleigh-Jones and Scher also announced the first phases of renovation to the retail spaces in the Butler Tunnel and MGC. 

“This work is intended to create a retail hub and will include relocating and redesigning the Eagle’s Nest using cashless check-out technology and adding two new, well-known, retail eatery concepts to our campus offerings,” the officials said in the email.

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