Campus dining cleans up act
Changes made after FGCU dining facilities fail health inspections
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 23:01
The Perch is a hub of activity at Florida Gulf Coast University. Students steal precious moments between classes to study, socialize and, most importantly, eat. As the air hums with chatter, students, staff and campus visitors shuffle in line to buy lunch from the various amenities on campus. With such a high volume of activity each day, the hygienic nature of these facilities often goes unquestioned.
“[Food Hygiene] violations depend on the school size. FGCU is a large school with a lot of kitchens. A school can get an unsatisfactory rating for one violation and fail the inspection. It all depends on the severity of that violation,” said Julia Elliott, a health inspector with the Florida Department of Health.
Elliott examined all the FGCU on-campus dining facilities in the year 2012. Out of the 11 public universities in the state of Florida, FGCU is one of only two universities that struggled with dining sanitation.
According to the Florida Department of Health, Jamba Juice was awarded a satisfactory health rating upon every, health examination last year. Unfortunately it was the only dining facility on campus to receive such flawless reviews in 2012.
After receiving unsatisfactory ratings, many campus facilities such as The Perch and Einstein Bros. Bagels went to work on reaching the standard FGCU students expect.
For instance, in January of last year Einstein’s Bagels in the Cohen Center was given an unsatisfactory rating by the Florida Department of Health. One minor violations received was due to a ladder being leaned against a three-tiered sink. A more concerning violation Einstein’s received was for storing the tuna salad at the incorrect temperature.
The on-campus purveyor of bagels failed four out of seven inspections, which included the forced stopped sale of 57 pounds of turkey stored at an incorrect temperature as well as 12 hygienic cleaning violations throughout the year.
“One repeat violation I can recall is at Einstein’s Bagels. The cold-holding fridge is located right below the toaster and wouldn’t stay at an accurate temperature. Maintenance has corrected this problem since last year,” Elliott said.
By September, Einstein Bros. Bagels had gotten the message the Florida Department of Health was sending. The location cleaned its way to a satisfactory health rating and amended many of its previous violations.
Last April, The Perch, which includes Chick-fil-A and Blu Sushi, was cited for various food protection violations, according to a routine examination conducted by inspector Elliott.
“[The Perch] is not necessarily unsanitary but it definitely needs to be cleaned and maintained,” said a Perch employee who spoke to Eagle News on the condition of anonymity. This employee, who has worked at The Perch since Chick-fil-A and Blu Sushi opened, has seen the dining facilities cleanliness change since its inception.
Violations noted by Elliott included inadequate hand washing after handling raw meat and items in a preparation refrigerator left unsealed, undated and uncovered.
She also denoted Chick-fil-A for using a bucket of pickles as a doorstop next to a trashcan during another routine inspection on Aug. 28.
“[The Perch] is relatively clean. I go out of my way to clean some things other employees don’t. The biggest thing I don’t see is other employees wiping things down,” said the anonymous Perch employee.
Elliott reported all dining facilities on-campus had successfully cleaned each location to the health department’s standards by the end of the year 2012.
“We’ve definitely made an effort to fix things since the first inspection,” said Eagle News’ anonymous source. “We’re much more conscious about sealing and storing things properly than we were. After the poor inspections, we worked to fix things immediately.”
As of Jan. 1, 2013, the food code in the state of Florida (regulated by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation) has received a facelift. These changes include improving the inspection process for restaurant operators.
The DBPR’s new update to the food code will separate violations into three categories: high priority, intermediate and basic.
A restaurant rated “high priority” has little to no preventative methods against food-borne illnesses and are a safety hazard to the public. An intermediate violation is due to circumstances in the establishment that could lead to food-borne illnesses and will become a high priority violation if left unattended. Basic violations are considered minor infringements that may need slight tweaking at the particular establishment.
Loren Privé, the Director of Business Operations at FGCU, explains that is a team effort for each location to maintain the cleanliness of the facility.
“It is both the responsibility of employees and management to ensure all of our facilities are clean. Eagle Dining works very closely with the University to ensure any items that they need assistance on repairing are completed when necessary,” Privé said.
Privé explains that the employees of each location clean each dining facility throughout the day. As the school has grown over the years, more employees have been hired at each location to ensure the sanitation requirements are met.
After the less than perfect reports from last year, Privé assures the school’s goal is always to exceed expectations and to correct errors when the dining facilities falter.
“When there are items on a report that need to be corrected, the University works with Eagle Dining and ensures that these items are corrected and the follow-up inspections result in a satisfactory manner,” Privé said.
The student body at FGCU has been reluctant to share its views on the sanitation of on-campus dining. Several students declined to be interviewed, however, Mark Gaines, a senior communications major, was surprised by the schools difficulty in following health code regulations.