Samuel Northrup, Editor-in-Chief
Sodexo Utica College was named in the Utica Observer-Dispatch’s publication of the Oneida County Health Department’s findings from its February food service inspections of local establishments and eateries.
Sodexo, the college’s exclusive food service provider, was given a “Satisfactory” grade but reinspection was required by the Health Department after several minor infractions were observed and corrected onsite. Sodexo passed the reinspection held days later without any violations, according to the dining service’s general manager Damian Boehlert.
“Me, myself, will tell you that all food is handled safely here,” Boehlert said. “I think the biggest thing was the timing. If they had showed up an hour later, we would have had no problems because the food would have been down to temperature.”
The report, via the OD, included the following observations from the county’s inspection: “improper cooling and refrigerated storage of potentially hazardous foods,” inability of employees to verify how long food was on the dining hall service line, “food not protected in general” and improper cleaning of equipment and utensils.
The reasons for the violations, Boehlert said, had to do with the timing of the Health Departments unannounced inspection and a faulty cooler.
Prior to each meal served in the Strebel Dining Commons, food is prepped and cooked at various points throughout the day — temperature increases, according to Boehlert, can be expected as a result. Sodexo employees then have up to two hours to refrigerate and cool each food item to its proper temperature.
“Say I take a cucumber out, and I’m making cucumber salad,” Boehlert explained. “I cut the cucumbers up, so obviously it’s falling out of temperature. They [health inspectors] got here just as we were done with production for our lunch.”
While temperature increases are part of the preparation process, Boehlert assured that food condition and quality is monitored and logged from the time it arrives on campus to when it is served following procedures from FDA’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) process.
HACCP is a management system “in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product,” according to the FDA’s official website.
“From the time it comes into our dock to the time it gets put into the cooler to the time it gets produced to the time it gets served to the customer, we temp it, we log it, we say it’s ‘good’ or if not we reject (discard) it,” Boehlert said.
February’s inspection was just one of as many four possible visits Sodexo will receive as part of the Oneida County Health Department’s regulatory process.