Caf quietly improves health safety score to 86; ‘adequate’ at last

After two years of declining health scores, the Market Café, colloquially known as the caf, received an 86 during their annual health inspection on Aug. 29.

In the inspection report, the caf was cited for four health code violations: “unapproved or unmaintained equipment or utensils,” “insufficient hot water or running water,” “moderate risk vermin infestation,” and “inadequate and inaccessible handwashing facilities.” 

The inspection sheet reveals apparent problems with stations lacking adequate soap or paper towels, issues with the boiler, and gaskets on the refrigerators needing replacement. In addition, water was not hot enough at some sinks which were being used for food preparation and cooking. 

In regard to the vermin, during the inspection, the health inspector found three dead mice in a glue trap under a counter at the Roma pizza station. Vermin droppings were found in various locations, such as the pizza station (including behind the pizza oven), the kitchen, and some storage rooms. 

In regard to the vermin, during the inspection, the health inspector found three dead mice in a glue trap under a counter at the Roma pizza station.

The inspector noted that Bon Appétit, USF’s contracted food service provider, needs to vermin-proof doors and windows along with sealing all points of entry with metal mesh, on top providing “an immediate and consistent professional pest control service to eliminate and monitor all vermin activity.”

The Foghorn became aware of the new health score on the evening of Oct. 8 through the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) database. At that time, Bon Appétit had not yet posted signage to reflect the change. In prior years, health score documentation was posted for public viewing next to the main entrance doors to the caf.

On Oct. 9, the morning after the Foghorn reached out to Bon Appétit about the most recent health inspection, the old signage was removed and the new inspection sheets, along with other score sheets for Bon Appétit catering services, were posted on the door of Bon Appétit’s office in the caf.

The failure to change signage to reflect the score from Aug. 29 is a violation of San Francisco’s Health Code, Section 456.1, as new scoresheets are issued immediately after inspections and are required to be posted. Before the morning of Oct. 9, it had been 41 days since the SFDPH inspection. 

Micah Cavolo, Bon Appétit’s district manager, said that the scorecard and inspection sheet were moved inside the office because they were concerned that documentation would be stolen and because patrons were messing up the display. He did not want to constantly replace missing signs. According to Cavolo, there are plans to install an enclosed, locking bulletin board to house the paperwork, similar to the Student Leadership Engagement (SLE) bulletin board that is used to display flyers. 

Cavolo said in an email that Bon Appétit is “awaiting the installation of the new boiler which will correct the hot water issues. This is a complicated, continuous-feed hot-water loop that is complicated to plan and install.”

As for the vermin and the refrigerator gaskets, Cavolo said, “Facilities maintenance has open continuous working projects to seal access points to the building. Our pest control vendor has committed to increased service in the form of three visits per week. Replacement gaskets [for the refrigerators] must be special ordered; they have been requested.”

The Aug. 29 inspection was a routine inspection carried out by SFDPH, which conducts annual inspections of food service establishments to ensure all establishments meet basic health code standards. According to the SFDPH website, the inspection was an “unscheduled” routine inspection that every establishment has annually, per section 440.1 of the health code

During inspections, city health inspectors examine the facility to ensure proper standards are met for safe food handling. Health inspectors do not taste the food — they are solely there to judge the health and sanitation standards of the establishment.

The Foghorn looked at the last three health inspection reports that were publicly available online. These reports go back until the December 2017 inspection, when the caf received an 83.

The score of 86 marks the first time the health score has improved since December 2017. This is also the first time in two years that the score falls in the “adequate” range (a score of 86-90 on the annual inspection). Through the two year period, the scores were in the “needs improvement” range, a score between 71-85. A score of 91 or higher is considered “good.”

The score of 86 marks the first time the health score has improved since December 2017.

A look at the previous inspections shows that the caf has continued being cited for some of the same violations. All four violations this year were repeated violations from the past, with the caf being cited for “unapproved or unmaintained equipment or utensils” in both of the previous reports. In 2017, the caf was also cited for both having “insufficient hot water or running water” and “inadequate and inaccessible handwashing facilities.”

In all three reports, the caf has been cited for vermin infestations. This year and in 2018, the caf was cited for a “moderate risk” infestation. In 2017, the caf was nearly shut down because there was a “high risk” infestation.

When asked why some of the same problems keep arising, Cavolo stated that issues are due to the age of the building and because of the construction next door which has “disturbed pest populations by among other things, opening up a wall on the adjoining building.” 

Citations for vermin infestation date back to 2017. The current phase of construction on War Memorial Gym began in late May of this year.

Cavolo also said that the water temperature has been a problem for several years, but should be resolved with a new boiler.

ASUSF Vice President for Advocacy Paolo Sayas, who has been a vocal critic of Bon Appétit, said in an email that, “Although it’s a good starting point on Bon Appétit’s part in trying to improve the quality of their service [by improving the health score], they have yet to address the real issues students are facing, namely the cost of meals relative to the standard Flexi meal plan [students who live on campus] must opt into.” 

Cavolo said that he and other management staff were not satisfied with the 86, as they had hoped to receive a 90 due to the improvements made over the past two years. He noted that the inspector praised staff “for demonstrating the proper safe food-handling behaviors and said that our process in production is in line with health department expectations.”

Garrett O’Doherty, the University administrator who oversees Bon Appétit, said that the school works closely with Bon Appétit to improve health scores and that multiple departments are working to help maintain the University Center, which houses the caf.

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