The Foghorn was mentioned in a tweet on Nov. 2 by a student confused about a “new” health safety score posted in the Market Café, USF’s main cafeteria. Senior Jack Wasserman tweeted:
“Hey @SFFoghorn, was there another inspection post the September 13th one that graded the caf an 80? I’m confused as to why this score is currently posted at the entrance of the caf. The paper on the left still shows an 80 as the final.”
Students across campus noticed that the large scorecard posted at the entrance to the cafeteria read “98,” but the detailed, smaller scoresheet from the cafeteria’s September health inspection read “80.”
The large score posted misled several students, as it was actually not referring to the cafeteria, but instead for Creative Catering at a different address, 2600 Turk Street, the site of Loyola House and the residence of President Paul Fitzgerald. Creative Catering is managed and owned by Bon Appétit.
However, posting Creative Catering’s score was not technically in violation of any health code provisions, according to San Francisco Health Code.
After receiving an 80 during a Sept. 18 inspection, a re-inspection of the cafeteria occurred on Oct. 19. But this inspection did not result in an altered score; it only confirmed that the previous infractions had been corrected.
In response to the scorecard which misled multiple students, Garrett O’Doherty said, “We are current in all our postings. Updated scores are not permitted on re-inspections but all infractions in Market Café have been corrected.” O’Doherty directs Events Management and Guest Services and is the top USF administrator in charge of the cafeteria. “The [re-]inspection and posting [of the 98 scorecard] occurred eight days prior to Parent Family Weekend and was posted immediately.”
After the Foghorn contacted O’Doherty about the score, the large “98” scorecard was removed on Nov. 5. Bon Appétit representatives from USF did not respond to interview requests.
The cafeteria is not actually violating any rule by posting the large “98” as long as the detailed health report with “80” is also posted. According to the San Francisco Health Code, Article 8, Section 456 and 456.1, establishments are only required to post the food inspection report, which lists violations and the findings of the public health inspector, in public view. Health code does not stipulate that it is illegal to post a scorecard even if it is at the wrong location. The posting of the scorecard — with its large numerals — is a common practice in the restaurant industry for transparency’s sake.
Students who noticed the difference believed it was in correlation with Parents and Family Weekend, which overlapped with the “98” scorecard being posted.
“Lying or trying to cover the bad score up is worse [than the lower score], if that is what is happening, and it seems to be the case,” Wasserman said in an interview. “You can’t make definitive statements, but the signs do seem to be pointing in the direction of a cover up.”
Wasserman used to work for Bon Appétit in the Market Café during his freshman year, but quit after five months because he didn’t agree with management practices.
Freshman politics major Kate Donovan also noticed the score change. Donovan has contacted the cafeteria in the past because of previous issues she has had with it.
“The sign actually did not surprise me because they often let students down, like when they close earlier than they say they will,” Donovan said. “It’s just another thing they’ve done that’s sneaky and unreliable. I found it actually a little comical because it was too easy for people to catch on to what they had done.”
Terrence Hong, Principal Environmental Health Inspector for the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), said in an interview that “there might’ve been the intent to mislead” with the posting of the higher score, which was more noticeable than the smaller, more detailed scoresheet with the accurate score written on it.
However, Hong said that his department could not take any further action on the matter, “unless someone wanted to admit to me that they intentionally knew what they were doing and [wanted to] mislead people.”
If the cafeteria only posted the “98” scorecard with its corresponding food inspection report, there would be a violation of the health code, according to Hong.
Freshman computer science major Kieran Gregg believes that the cafeteria’s intent was to mislead customers. He believes the posting was “[meant] for the parents to see.”
“I mean, I can’t say it’s the obvious answer, but [the timing is] obviously convenient and an 80 would grab the attention of parents,” Gregg said.
“[The] main thing that bothers me is that USF holds students to high expectations and integrity. We should have expectations of [the University] and having a clean place to get food is not an unreasonable demand if it’s one of the only options for food on campus,” Wasserman said. “I don’t want people who I don’t trust handling our food. It is time for a new company.”