Posted on 10 April 2013.
The Grant County Health Department inspected multiple facets of Pioneer College Caterers at Indiana Wesleyan University Feb. 4, 2013. This included 16 critical and noncritical violations for Baldwin, Wildcat Express and Mario’s. The College Store didn’t have any violations.
Pioneer Food Service Director Ron McGinley said the health department inspects the food services twice a year, and this was the first time under his leadership. The inspection took about five or six hours under the guidance of environmental specialists Dale Carr and Richard Rider.
In addition to having it as a routine inspection, the health department addressed a previously submitted complaint about Baldwin. This individual reported having gotten sick from the food. Even though it was just one person, Rider said it could have affected the multitude of students eating there every day.
“Every inspection we do is intensive,” Rider said. “We make sure it’s thorough for the public. We’re going to make sure the public wins.”
McGinley said since the inspection covered every aspect of Pioneer, the number of violations looked higher than normal.
“Anything that’s a health violation is not a small thing,” said McGinley, however. “I don’t want to underscore that.”
Rider and Carr followed McGinley and Director of Culinary Operations James Lipetri to each part of Pioneer. One critical item had to do with the holding temperature, which after the meat has been cooked, is the temperature it needs to be held at while waiting to be served. Some of the holding units were not set to the proper degree needed for the meat they contained.
Because it wasn’t recorded how long the meat had been held in the improper temperature, Carr said the meat had to be pulled and discarded.
“There are no ifs, ands or buts,” Carr said. “If you can’t get me an answer, pull it. Throw it away.”
McGinley said a way to regulate the holding units is through documentation. Once a product goes into the unit, a worker needs to write down the time and temperature. He said some places had document logs, but not all. McGinley said he had to implement the logs and completely re-train staff.
Both Rider and Carr said they were impressed in how aggressive McGinley has been in getting the problems fixed. McGinley said there were only three critical items that he or Lipetri didn’t fix during the actual inspection. They weren’t fixed on the spot because they needed help from other parts of the university, such as maintenance.
For example, the inspectors said some of the lightbulbs weren’t shatterproof. If the lightbulbs break, it could get into the food. McGinley said these were replaced by maintenance staff and charged to the school.
Once an inspection ends, the inspectee has 10 days to fix all of the problems. If the company doesn’t, it will require a second visit by the health department. Pioneer fixed the problems by Feb. 14, so no second visit was necessary.
“You look at their operation. There’s a lot of write-up on [the inspection report], but it’s a big organization,” Rider said. With more than 350 facilities to inspect, Rider said officials have to trust Pioneer’s management to correct the violations themselves.
Carr added if there’s a problem that could possibly be a threat to someone’s safety, inspectors won’t leave until it’s resolved.
One of the violations noted had also been marked as a violation in a past inspection, which is termed a repeat violation. This repeat violation was found at Mario’s, where a cup without handles on it was being used to scoop pasta. Rider said this could contaminate the food if a worker touched the cup and then put it back in the pasta instead of properly holding a handle. Pioneer fixed the repeat violation on the spot.
McGinley said Pioneer will enact stricter rules to make sure workers understand proper procedures. The managers meet every day before meals and talk about food safety at some point. From this past inspection, McGinley said Pioneer hopes to prepare more for future evaluations.
“Just going through all the stuff and going back to basics and focusing on that,” McGinley said. “That really is the No. 1 thing, and the biggest thing that comes up across food service industry wherever I work. We’re continually educating and reminding.”