Gabriel Greschler and Katherine Na
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The city’s most recent health score for the Market Café, USF’s main campus cafeteria, dropped by three points after a Sept. 18 unscheduled inspection. The score is now at an 80. The last unscheduled inspection score, conducted on Dec. 4, 2017, was an 83.
This new score leaves the cafeteria within the “Needs Improvement” category under San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) parameters. It also marks the second time in a row in nine months the cafeteria has been placed in this category after an unscheduled inspection.
WHAT VIOLATIONS WERE FOUND?
The September inspection revealed multiple health violations, which are split into three categories. The cafeteria received two high risk violations, one moderate risk violation and one low risk violation.
Among the two high risk violations, the SFDPH inspector found the refrigerators holding pizza ingredients and chicken salad wraps above their required temperatures. These potentially hazardous foods must be in refrigerators that are 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in order to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Garrett O’Doherty, the top USF administrator in charge of the cafeteria, addressed these violations. He said the pizza workstation refrigerator is consistently left open when food is made, which accounts for the above-regulation temperature. O’Doherty said the workstation refrigerator was replaced the day of the inspection.
Director of Facilities Craig Petersen confirmed that the pizza workstation refrigerator was replaced. But he said that the machine wasn’t reaching the proper temperature because it “had a broken wire preventing the temperature from the thermostat to be relayed to the circuitry to activate the compressor.”
Similarly, the wraps had just been made and placed in the refrigerator, not allowing time for them to properly cool down, O’Doherty said.
A high temperature dishwasher also failed to reach the minimum required temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is necessary for preventing bacteria growth. O’Doherty said the machine is consistently faulty, but was working after the inspection. He plans on replacing it this December.
As for moderate risks, the SFDPH inspector also found “mice droppings on floor/corners of [the] chemical storage unit,” which is located in the kitchen, not in the main cafeteria.
“That was old, that was not in any way fresh,” O’Doherty said. “[It] probably got missed on a cleaning.” He also said that it was a “fairly common occurrence” in restaurants.
This contrasts with statements from San Francisco health officials. SFDPH “does not find many facilities with vermin violations,” District Inspector Olga Granado said in a February 2018 interview. “The percentage where [the Department of Public Health] finds vermin violations is very small,” Granado had added.
“Several dead cockroaches inside glue traps” were also found, but the report does not specify where.
The low risk violation included several refrigerators needing replacements for their rubber gaskets, which helps regulate internal temperature by preventing cool air from escaping.
WHY DID THE SCORE GO DOWN?
O’Doherty said that the score drop could mainly be attributed to some of the cafeteria’s faulty refrigerators and dishwashers. “On this particular [September] inspection, 14 points of the 20 point drop were tied directly to three pieces of equipment.”
He also pointed to the age of the University Center, built in 1966, as one of the overall reasons for the new health score. “We’re dealing with a building that needs a lot of work,” he said. “It’s an old building.”
O’Doherty said that despite the score, he remains “very confident” in the hygienic procedures at the cafeteria. He said that he still eats one — if not two — meals a day at the cafeteria.
The most recent inspection report, which is displayed in a plastic placard near the southern entrance to the cafeteria, was found in front of the “Food Safety Scorecard,” the colored sheet that is usually posted in plain view at the front of restaurants and shows the health score in large font.
In an Oct. 5 follow up email, O’Doherty said this is allowed by SFDPH. “The Health Department Inspector informed Bon Appetit that the requirement is to post the written report which in itself identifies the score and the detail,” O’Doherty said.
Granado said in an Oct. 5 interview that solely posting the written report without the colored scorecard clearly visible is “misleading, as the scorecard is the part of the report most people are looking for anyways.” She did not say it was a violation of SFDPH requirements.
“You would expect that there would be some improvement [in the score],” said junior Ghufran Latif, who is on the school meal plan. “It makes me wonder who is in charge of running the whole food industry inside the school. It makes me obviously not want to eat here anymore.” Latif also said that he wanted to see more transparency on behalf of the administration in communicating the score.
Freshman Genna Meisner, who also has a student meal plan, said, “It’s kind of concerning because it looks kinda tidy [in the cafeteria]. I wasn’t expecting it to be this big of a drop.” Meisner said that if the score gets worse, she would like to receive an email alert from the school.
Freshman Katie Tamura, also on the meal plan, said she found the health score drop “honestly really disgusting.” She stated that she had already heard about the cafeteria’s previous health score violations, which is why she “typically avoid[s] eating at the caf, and only risk[s] eating the sandwiches, sushi and sometimes salad” — she said that this is because those are all foods she “can carefully inspect.” Tamura stated that she has never eaten three full meals in a day at the cafeteria and will now most likely be eating there even less.
But sophomore Joanna Chu, who isn’t on a meal plan but eats at the cafeteria every morning, said she wasn’t that concerned. She said that because her family is involved in the restaurant industry, she is “not too pushed away by the score,” and sees it as pretty normal. However, Chu said if the score drops below 80, she won’t eat at the cafeteria anymore.
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