After a report from the San Francisco Department of Public Health found rodent droppings in a corner of the salad bar, no paper towels by hand-washing stations and a live cockroach, USF’s main cafeteria, the Market Café, received a “needs improvement” score of 83 out of 100.
The report was conducted on Dec. 4, 2017 – such inspections are usually carried out twice a year. The report is legally required to be placed in public view and can be found by the doors of the main entrance to Market Café.
Also included in the food inspection report are citations of “observed rodent droppings behind the inoperable Traulsen™ three door fridge.” Other citations, besides the rodent and roach related, were hand washing stations that were “not fully stocked with liquid soap, paper towels, and running hot and cold water,” including the “hand wash sink at [the] main kitchen entry point.” The Market Café was docked seven points for “high risk” violations, which the SF Department of Public Health defines as “violations that directly relate to the transmission of foodborne illnesses, the adulteration of food products and the contamination of food-contact surfaces.” The Market Café was docked eight points for “moderate risk” violations, and two points for “low risk” violations.
According to District Inspector Olga Granado, the Department of Public Health “does not find many facilities with vermin violations.” She added that there are about 7,000 food facilities in San Francisco, and “the percentage where [the Department of Public Health] finds vermin violations is very small.” Granado was not the inspector for the Market Café, but could speak broadly to other food establishments in San Francisco.
When emailed, Sarah Gill, Bon Appétit’s Director of Operations, said, “In regards to the health score, there were issues with the water not getting hot enough in the building, which affected several areas of our production. This has been corrected by facilities, and we are waiting for another audit so we can have a corrected score.” When asked further about the high risk violations, like rodent feces and inadequate handwashing stations, Gill did not reply before publication date (21 hours passed between the time our follow up email was sent and the time we sent this issue to print).
On-campus dining services are managed by Bon Appétit, an on-site restaurant company. As a part of USF’s contract with Bon Appétit, no other food services are allowed on campus, unless for extenuating circumstances that require approval from Events Management & Guest Services. These circumstances include religious or cultural reasons.
Freshman English major Danica Creahan-Mueller has the meal plan required by USF for most students in campus housing. “It’s not like it’s easy to get out of the meal plan. We are essentially forced to eat here,” she said.
Marjorie Hernandez, a junior nursing major who says she developed food poisoning after eating at the “Grab ‘n’ Go” in the Market Café in spring 2017, has sworn off cafeteria food. She said she developed food poisoning after eating a pre-made Cubano sandwich. “I felt the effects that night,” Hernandez said. “I woke up dehydrated and with muscle weakness. I could barely walk and my legs were achy. I then developed a fever and that’s when I headed to the emergency room. They didn’t know at first if it was only food poisoning because of the fever, so they ran tests, but nothing came up other than food poisoning!”
Creahan-Mueller, Jessica Perrine, a freshman environmental science major, and Olivia Buch, a freshman international studies major, all questioned why USF maintains its partnership with Bon Appétit when some students are dissatisfied with the services they are paying for and receiving – especially in the face of health code violations. “It really worries me that the school isn’t more concerned about the health score dropping. It feels negligent when nothing is done over an issue concerning our health and safety,” Creahan-Mueller said, with Perrine and Buch nodding in agreement.
“If I have to pay thousands of dollars for tuition,” Creahan-Mueller said, “I don’t want to worry about roaches getting into my food.”
Featured Photo: Senior biology major Annisa Ceja picks out vegetables from the salad bar where rodent feces were found during a Dec. 4 Public Health report. Ali DeFazio/Foghorn