In light of the Dec. 4 health report that found rodent droppings in a corner of the salad bar, a live roach and inadequate handwashing stations, Bon Appétit has taken measures to address these concerns. Bon Appétit said that within 24-48 hours after the Dec. 4 health inspection, they significantly increased pest control procedures and filled in holes that pests could have come through. However, many students remain skeptical, considering past experiences with Bon Appétit. A former student employee in the Market Café and two students cited incidents concerning the way food was handled before the health report was covered by the Foghorn. They referenced uncovered salmon, undercooked chicken tenders and one incident of little-to-no training for employees on how to prepare raw meat.
In regards to the December health report, Bon Appétit said they have increased the pest-control schedule from one to three times per week and once a week during the day. This includes more trap services, inspections and “multiple full fogging procedures,” Bon Appétit said. “The culinary team deployed a daily deep cleaning list.”
Bon Appétit also said that the holes and gaps in the interior and exterior walls of the Market Café were immediately filled by the USF facilities team and that over break they deep-cleaned the kitchen “from top to bottom.”
In addition, Vice President for USF Office of Marketing and Communication Ellen Ryder said “USF and Bon Appétit are very sorry for this distressing situation. It is absolutely unacceptable and does not reflect either of our standards. We have been working together to rectify protocols and procedures, and are confident that a return inspection will validate that all infractions have been corrected.”
The San Francisco Department of Public Health and Safety returned on Jan. 3 to the Market Cafe for a reinspection following the Dec. 4 visit, but was unable to conduct the reinspection because the building was closed for water maintenance. Bon Appétit said they have repeatedly requested a follow up inspection.
Bon Appétit also said they assigned additional staff responsibilities, such as checking and restocking the hand sink. The Market Café also received an Bon Appétit Quality Assurance food safety manager, who audited and “conducted additional training.”
However, students are raising issues of unsanitary food handling practices dating back to 2014.
Candy Raye, a junior psychology major, filed a complaint in December a few days before the Dec. 4 inspection. “I had been in the back of the kitchen [in November] and saw trays of salmon left uncovered. After that experience, I knew I had to do something about it,” Raye said.
“I told [the Health Department] about the salmon incident and how the food is never up to temperature. Sometimes food isn’t cooked completely through and my friends have gotten food poisoning. I also told them about a specific incident when my friend and I witnessed a live roach or insect of some kind at the grill,” said Raye.
USF graduate Colleen Mercado tweeted a photo of undercooked chicken tenders last April that recieved over 140 likes as of Feb. 12. A photo of the chicken can be found on page 3. “I didn’t report it to Bon Appétit, but I took it back to the grill and they gave me a new batch,” she said.
Valeria Imendia, a senior international studies and Latin American studies major, became concerned with Bon Appétit’s food handling practices beginning in 2014, when she worked in Outtakes Café as a freshman. She said she wasn’t surprised when she heard about the Market Café’s health score. Imendia said, “Based on my experience working in the undercaf, I was also not surprised, given that so much of how the food was handled downstairs was completely unsanitary.”
“I was assigned to be at the grill [downstairs] on that first day on the job without undergoing any sort of training on how to handle and cook meat,” Imendia said. “I remember [her and her new coworker] asked how we would know once the burgers were cooked all the way and the manager just told us we would be able to tell. When my manager showed us how to make each item at the grill, he never once wore gloves. I would see him wash his hands, but he still never wore gloves.”
Bon Appétit said the Market Café is bi-annually audited by an independent agency, EcoSure, follows the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points and has implemented a Compass Quality Assurance/Food Safety training program. Their chefs and managers are ServSafe qualified, and a bi-weekly committee meets “to discuss ways to further improve sanitation through education around frequent hand washing, sanitizing workstations, avoiding cross contamination, and ensuring proper food temperatures.”
Bon Appétit also said they welcome comments and feedback, whether online on their website’s comment form, through comment cards in the café, or in person.
Ali DeFazio contributed to the reporting in this story.