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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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More recent food safety inspections reveal health code violations in Mary Graydon Center and Starbucks

Reports show violations that were previously fixed to be out of compliance with health regulations again

Food safety inspection reports obtained by The Eagle show additional recent health code violations in the Mary Graydon Center and the campus Starbucks. 

The most recent inspection of MGC took place on Nov. 4, and was caused by a complaint to DC Health. Six violations were noted by the inspector, three of which were corrected on site. There was also an inspection of Starbucks on Oct. 26 that was also triggered by a complaint. Seven violations were found, three of which were corrected on site, and the rest were fixed by a follow-up inspection on Nov. 4.

According to the Nov. 4 report of MGC, a dishwasher’s temperature and pressure gauge were not working, there were missing ceiling tiles above a dishwasher and grease from the hood of a grill was found on food. The University was given 14 calendar days to fix these violations.

There is no inspection report on DC Health’s portal to indicate that there has been a follow-up inspection, which would confirm whether the violations have since been fixed.

There were also no paper towels at a handwashing sink and grill area, and cold food items and hazardous foods were not being held at proper temperatures. 

DC Health mandates cold and perishable foods be held at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below, but lettuce and tomatoes at the salad bar were being held at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, raw onions at the salad bar were being held at 51 degrees Fahrenheit and cooked carrots in a refrigerator were being held at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. These violations were corrected on site during the inspection.

Not all of these violations are new for MGC. A recent Eagle investigation examined health code violations in American University Dining facilities using food safety inspection reports of MGC from March 24, Sept. 21 and Sept 28. The University responded on Dec. 1 with an email to the community detailing what AU Dining is doing to improve their program and said it would be transparent about the process.

During the investigation, University Spokesperson Jasmine Pelaez told The Eagle in an email on Oct. 17 that all violations found on those dates had been fixed. 

“All violations were corrected,” Pelaez wrote in reference to the Sept. 28 inspection. “To do so, we continued our focus on retraining staff in our procedures, including maintaining appropriate documentation as well as posting required notices. We also worked with our staff and vendors to ensure adherence to maintenance and replacement schedules for equipment.” 

However, many of the violations flagged during previous inspections and then fixed were found again on Nov. 4. 

The facility was found to be lacking “adequate handwashing sinks that are properly supplied and accessible” during inspections that took place on March 24 and Sept. 21. While this was fixed in time for another inspection on Sept. 28, the violation was noted again on Nov. 4.

MGC was also noted to be failing to maintain proper cold holding temperatures during the Sept. 21 inspection. It was fixed by the subsequent Sept. 28, but was found out of compliance again on Nov. 4. 

Starbucks failed to be compliant with multiple regulations that have direct implications on consumers’ health. 

“The establishment did not provide proof of an employee health policy for the prevention of foodborne illness,” wrote Inspector Mengestayhu Akelat in the Oct. 26 report. “I provided the establishment with a copy of the Food Code's conditional employee and food employee interview, reporting agreement, and medical referral forms. (Corrected On Site)”

According to the report, Starbucks also did not have approved procedures for responding to contamination due to vomiting or diarrhea, but the violation was corrected on site.

There were two violations relating to keeping food items at the proper temperature. 

“One low boy refrigerator has not been able to keep interior ambient air temperature at 41 degree F[ahrenheit] or less during the inspection,” Akelat wrote. The University was given five calendar days to fix the violation.

Two refrigerators were being held at 56 degrees Fahrenheit, another refrigerator was being held at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, sweet cream in a refrigerator was being held at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 2% reduced fat milk was being held at 56 degrees Fahrenheit on a food prep table and soy milk was being held at 56 degrees Fahrenheit on a food prep table.

Other violations included insufficient or no lighting in low boy refrigerators, no visible thermometers in two low boy refrigerators and the lack of a covered receptacle for menstrual products in the gender neutral bathroom. The University was given 14 calendar days to fix these violations, and none were found out of compliance during the Nov. 4 follow-up inspection.

The Eagle reached out to the University for comment, but they did not respond in time for publication. 

After initial publication, Assistant Vice President for Community and Internal Communication Elizabeth Deal told The Eagle in an email, “A customer complained about an incorrect drink order in Starbucks, which generated the inspection on 10/26. The 11/4 report about Starbucks was a follow up from 10/26 and shows all clear.”

“After the initial September and early October inspections, Chartwells adopted a response plan process, which is designed to explain specifically what the basis of the finding was, how we corrected and improved processes,” Deal wrote. “We also now have a partnership with DC Health which provides DC Health a copy of all logs and photo proof for food temperature and holding each week. This minimizes the need for DC Health to come and inspect if they continue to receive nuisance complaints.”

Deal wrote that the University had four internal inspections spanning from mid-October to Dec. 8, during which they received four and five-star safety levels.

“The rating is based on total finding points and depending on the venue points assessed could total 100 or more total points with more complex venues, like TDR, having more potential points available because of more numerous safety standards,” Deal wrote.

According to Deal, a five-star rating means the facility was given 0-4 points, and a four star rating means the facility was given 5-9 points. Two-star and one-star ratings, which go along with 20-29 points and 30+ points respectively, will lead to a reassessment. It was not made immediately clear what the points stand for or how they are assigned.

No information on who conducts these inspections, their standards or copies of their reports were provided.

jyoung@theeagleonline.com

Editor's note: This story has been updated since the time of publication to include a comment from the Univeristy.


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