SDSU dining services fare OK in food inspection

Nick Lowrey

SDSU food services scored well but have room for improvement when it comes to food safety.

The South Dakota Department of Health Safety has conducted its two routine health inspections of dinning services this year. The inspection results were obtained by The Collegian under the South Dakota open records law. What’s revealed by the inspections include high marks in some areas and some troubling details about some of SDSU’s dinning options.

Restaurants like SDSU Dinning Services are evaluated using a 100-point system. Violations of the health code are assigned a value ranging from one to five and are subtracted from 100 to arrive at the inspection score. Neither the Larson Commons nor the Medary Commons food service locations scored above 90 points this year.

Larson Commons scored 85 in February and again in September. In February, the state inspector found that cleanliness was the biggest issue at Larson. Employees were failing to wash their hands and equipment was not being properly cleaned. During its second inspection there were no less than five violations repeated – again the issue was cleanliness. The September inspection also found that raw animal foods like meat were being stored near food that was ready-to-serve, creating a potential contamination hazard.

Medary Commons scored 87 in both of its inspections also conducted in February and September. In February, the issue was cleanliness. Those issues were corrected by the September inspection, but other problems occurred. New problems arose with the storage of food; specifically raw animal foods were being stored above and close to ready-to-eat foods. Also, the proper temperatures were not being maintained at both the pita station and the salad bar.

Papa John’s in The Union’s basement scored 85 in September. The popular pizza chain suffered from a lack of cleaning. Food contact surfaces had not been properly cleaned and wiping cloths were not being stored in a sanitizing solution.  The largest single issue was that raw animal foods were being stored too close to ready-to-eat foods.

Some students have voiced complaints about sanitation at Papa John’s. Senior journalism major Ryan Sandberg said last week when he ordered a pizza the employee manning the counter was not wearing gloves. Sandberg said the employee sneezed into his elbow and then, without washing his hands, grabbed some pizza dough and began making his pizza.

“Then I walked away,” he said, “I was just so grossed out.”

The Java City in Wagner Hall and The SDSU Dairy Bar both scored higher and suffered only from minor issues. The Dairy Bar scored a 99 in February and a 92 in September –the lower score was because wiping cloths were stored in too strong of a cleaning solution and the cleaning liquids were unlabeled. The Wagner Java City scored 96 and 99 in its inspections with the only violation in September due to bare wood shelves being used in a dry storage closet.

Aramark, the food service contractor for SDSU, released a prepared statement in response to questions about the health inspection results.

“Serving safe, nutritious and quality food is our top priority. We have ongoing, rigorous training and quality assurance processes to ensure we meet very high standards.   Consistent with our rigorous practices, the issues noted in the inspection reports were all immediately addressed and corrected.”

How well The Union Market scored during its food inspection is unknown, as the SDDH did not provide its scores at the time this article was published.