Response to Recent Health Inspections of our Dining Facilities
Dear Parents, Students, and Patrons of Penn Dining,
On behalf of Penn and our service provider, Bon Appétit Management Company, we would like to address the understandable concerns about recent health inspections in campus dining facilities. We recognize that the results of the current inspections are unacceptable. Please be assured that Penn Dining, Bon Appetit’s quality assurance team, and a professional food safety auditor, are taking both immediate and long-term actions to ensure results like this do not occur again. The full information is being provided below as a means of transparency and to offer more context regarding the findings, but we want our community to know that we are committed to providing a safe dining environment and that:
- Penn’s dining facilities have not had repeated uncorrected violations or severe violations; but our goal is always to aim for inspections with zero violations.
- Swift actions have been taken to not only remediate the immediate concerns, but also to formulate a new action plan aimed at ensuring we meet or exceed all health and safety regulations.
- In the past five years at Penn, no suspected GI issues have been traced back to food service-related items. Instead, in most cases they have closely coincided with rises in norovirus or other intestinal illnesses being seen in the campus health center and wider community.
As was acknowledged in Bon Appetit’s/Penn’s collective response to the DP reporter, health inspections are part of a process of continuous improvement and are a snapshot in time to help food service operations identify procedures for ensuring ongoing compliance. Penn’s dining facilities have not had repeated uncorrected violations or severe violations. In fact, the majority of the cited violations were corrected during the inspection itself or immediately afterward. However, we recognize that public perception of health department violations is that any violation is critical. Please know that our goal is always to aim for inspections with zero violations.
Currently we have the following protocols in place: The services of VII Principles, a Philadelphia-based food safety and risk minimization services consultant, has been engaged to conduct random inspections of all facilities that mirror Health Department standards and required industry protocols. During these random inspection audits, additional training occurs with all staff. An on-campus custodial service has also been contracted for additional daily and proactive deep cleanings. Weekly deep cleanings occur in the back kitchen by on-campus custodial services and senior managers on campus complete twice daily inspections with the café teams to address daily tasks and any issues or concerns.
Of our 15 campus locations, 10 have passed Department of Health inspections or re-inspections during the fall semester, two are up for re-inspection (Hill and 1920), and the remaining three are due for their annual inspections during the Spring Semester. An overview of the steps being taken to address the findings identified at Hill House and 1920 Commons that require re-inspection are as follows:
1920 Commons: Although 1920 passed its regular inspection, the Health Department did an unscheduled inspection due to a notification about sightings of birds in the facility. It was determined that they had flown in through an open loading dock and they were promptly removed with the assistance of a wildlife trapper. Protective curtains have been installed to prevent future entry. All other issues identified at that time during the inspection have been addressed.
Hill House: This facility was inspected as part of the annual inspection process. The following steps are being taken
- • Traps have been set to manage fruit flies and a plan has been made to relocate the biodigester which was determined to be the focus of the problem.
- • The facility was deep cleaned immediately to address areas identified beneath and behind the large equipment. There will be follow-up with staff to ensure their training and attentiveness to continued maintenance of these areas.
- • Although there is continual pest monitoring, at this time of year in particular, pests nonetheless find their way into buildings, most notably in areas that have construction nearby, which has been the case on campus along 34th street. Dining has a minimum of one professional service pest inspection a week, and more if needed, at each of our cafés. Management is working closely with Northeast Extermination, the campus pest control service, by adding additional protocols including daily visits to the buildings and has conducted walk-throughs of the facilities with Northeast Extermination to identify access points, cleaning opportunities, or needs for enhanced trapping.
Aside from the concerns identified in the inspection, we are aware that concerns have been expressed with regard to suspected instances of foodborne illness. Any instance of a potential foodborne illness that is brought to our attention is investigated by Bon Appetit’s corporate director of integrated safety and Compass Group’s quality assurance team (Compass Group is Bon Appetit’s parent company) alongside the on-campus senior team including Resident District Manager William Hess, campus executive chef, operations manager, food safety manager, and dietitian. The team uses a standardized survey and investigation protocol designed by Compass Group food safety and quality assurance experts that includes a review of temperature logs and other food safety practices and an analysis of epidemiological data such as food histories, onset time, symptoms, and duration of illnesses. We also reach out to the Penn Wellness leadership to see if there have been any additional reports or if they are seeing increases in gastrointestinal issues. In the past five years at Penn, no suspected GI issues have been traced back to food service-related items. Instead, in most cases they have closely coincided with rises in norovirus or other intestinal illnesses being seen in the campus health center and wider community.
Please know that none of the above information is intended to diminish the fact that the results of the inspection necessitate that we redouble our efforts to proactively provide a clean and safe dining experience. Please be assured, swift actions have been taken to not only remediate the immediate concerns, but also to formulate a new action plan aimed at ensuring we meet or exceed all health and safety regulations. We are treating this situation with the highest priority and are committed to restoring your confidence in the services we provide to the Penn community.