Chartwells says dining sanitation improved
Last week's closures reopened, student trepidation remains
Published: Monday, October 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 7, 2013 23:10
Following the closure of MSC Food Court, Einstein’s Bagels and Sbisa Dining Hall on Thursday, Chartwells officials said Dining Services is once again up to health standards and plans to stay that way.
The three dining facilities were temporarily closed Thursday afternoon when health inspectors suspended food licenses for these establishments due to rat droppings and cockroach infestations. Facilities reopened Friday after the Brazos County Health Department performed a reevaluation.
Gina Capetanakis, marketing manager for Chartwells, the company in charge of University Dining, said a third-party auditor employed by Chartwells conducted a treatment and inspection on Oct. 1, but it wasn’t until Thursday that the Brazos County Health Department temporarily closed some facilities due to pests.
“Additional treatments and building improvements were completed overnight on Thursday and the units re-opened after passing the re-inspection on Friday,” Capetanakis said. “Chartwells took immediate action and had the venues treated, cleaned and inspected thoroughly.”
Julie Prouse, extension assistant for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said the rats and cockroaches are a health threat to students, which is why they are two factors health inspectors look for during inspections. The process of getting food licenses reinstated depends on a number of factors.
“This is a health issue because cockroaches and rats can carry food-borne illness,” Prouse said. “[Inspectors] will usually schedule a follow-up visit 24 hours later to re-inspect to see if all issues have been fixed, and if they have they will reinstate their permit.”
Capetanakis said Chartwells is working with the University to form proactive measures to make sure this type of incident does not happen again. Along with the Brazos County inspections twice a year, the same third-party auditor that inspected on Oct. 1 performs inspections throughout each semester.
“Chartwells has extensive procedures in place regarding dining facility sanitation that are in full compliance with food safety and sanitation laws and uses rigorous third-party external audits to ensure the highest industry quality assurance standards are met,” Capetanakis said.
Given the gravity of having regularly used dining facilities shut down for sanitary issues, some students, like Alex Parker, sophomore visualization major, are discontented with the situation despite official reassurances.
Parker, who ate in the MSC Thursday morning before the closing, said she was suspicious about the fast turnaround. Parker said she expected the facilities to be closed for longer due to the health issues involved with the shutdown.
“I feel like an infestation would be an in-depth and widespread issue that would take more than 24 hours to quickly and completely eradicate,” Parker said.
Kasey Kram, president of the Residence Hall Association, who led an RHA meeting in Sept. to address dining services concerns, said while he trusts the University did an efficient job of eradicating the pest problem by Friday, he was shocked about the shutdown, especially at the MSC, as it is a recently renovated building. Kram said the presence of rat droppings in the cooking facilities was a point of concern.
“Rats and roaches do not just appear overnight,” Kram said. “This raised concerns of how long this issue has been present.”