Marillac Hall Food Court narrowly passed a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene safety inspection on Monday, October 22. According to Ken Waldhof, executive director of auxiliary services, the cafeteria received 27 violation points – the maximum amount allowed for a food court to pass.
The inspection came two and a half weeks after an initial health inspection on October 4, in which Marillac Food Court received 52 violation points. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Web site, some of the violations from that inspection included “milk or milk product undated, improperly dated or expired,” “evidence of flying insects or live flying insects present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas,” and “hot food not held at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Waldhof noted that different inspectors look for different things, and that in the case of Marillac Food Court’s initial inspection, bad luck was a big factor.
“The [Oct. 4] health inspector came at 8:30 a.m. – very soon after we had just taken new milk bottles off of the cooling truck and placed them in Marillac’s refrigerators,” he said. “Since the milk had just been placed in our own refrigerators, they hadn’t yet been cooled to the desirable temperature, leading to one of the violations.”
Waldhof said that the University took action as soon as it heard of the violations. “Since this October 4 inspection, St. John’s has placed orders for a new refrigerator, freezer, and food warming equipment to offset future concerns,” he said.
He added, “These new equipment items, we, along with Sodexho, believe will help eliminate temperature issues.”
Marillac Food Court made a noticeable improvement during the October 22 follow-up inspection, receiving 25 less violation points than they had on October 4.
However, it still received 27 violation points – one away from failing.
Waldhof noted that St. John’s has been informing its students of the recent inspections by placing informational signs by the registers at each food court.
“We have communicated through postings in each dining facility the results of the most recent inspection,” said Waldhof, “providing customer-awareness and our assurance that action is quickly taken to correct all items cited.”
Many students, however, felt that the inspections were not properly advertised. “I had no idea,” said fresehman Farhana Rahman. “They probably don’t want to notify us because it would cost them money, since people would stop eating.”
Graduate student Mir Ali also did not know about the inspections.
“Do students even want to know about this?” he asked. “Most students don’t want to go out anyway, so they’ll still eat here regardless of any inspection.”
Other students seemed outraged over the failed Oct. 4 inspection.
“If they [St. John’s] can put up two waterfalls on campus, they should be able to make their kitchens pass,” said fifth-year pharmacy student Shah Haque. He added, “Where is our tuition money going, anyway?”
Still, despite the violations, most students agree that they will continue to eat at Marillac Food Court.
“There’s no other fast food place on campus,” said sophomore Joel Dume. “I’ll definitely still go.”
Freshman Nandini Puranprasha agreed, although seemed hesitant about trying certain foods.
“I would still go there for chips,” she said, “but definitely not the prepared food.”